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Cats-in-Residence: An Encore Purr-formance in Connecticut

Art Scene

Cats-in-Residence: An Encore Purr-formance in Connecticut

You’ve seen Cats the musical on Broadway; now it’s time for Cats-in-Residence, the art show.

“It’s an installation. It’s a performance piece, a purr-formance piece. It’s interspecies performance art for humans to enjoy. It’s a Zen kitty playground,” creator Rhonda Lieberman told the Hartford Courant.

After a wildly popular debut at NYC’s White Columns gallery in 2013, Cats-in-Residence is now showing at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Conn. The “artists” are homeless cats who live, work (we guess?) and play in an 18-foot exhibition space decorated with toys, furniture, accessories and artwork created by various New York artists and architects. Seating areas throughout the space allow viewers to watch and interact with the cats.

What’s better? You can bring your favorite purr-former home. The gallery has partnered with a local adoption organization, CT Cat Connection, to find new homes for as many of the feline phenoms as possible.

“It’s a way to use the art and the design and the architecture to help these kitties find a home,” Will K. Wilkins, the executive director of Real Art Ways, told FOX CT. “If this round of cats gets adopted, Connecticut Cat Connection is going to give us more cats, so we’d like to see 20, 30, 40 cats get adopted.”

Lieberman told the Hartford Courant that she came up with the idea for Cats-in-Residence back in the mid-90s when she was living in Queens.

“I wasn’t even a cat person, but I moved into an area with a lot of industrial lofts, and all these cats were on the street. I said ‘what’s going on with these cats?’ to my neighbor who was feeding them, and I found out there was an informal cat colony on an empty lot,” she said. “There were so many dumped cats. I started feeding them and looking for homes for them and I was exposed to how overextended rescue networks and shelter systems are. They’re overflowing with adoptable cats. It’s tragic and relentless.”

She added that watching the cats was relaxing, “like going to a sculpture garden,” and likened them to “beautiful, fascinating performers.”

Cats-in-Residence will be on display in Hartford through Dec. 7 before the show heads out to Los Angeles later this month. According to CT Cat Connection volunteer Cynthia Krusz, the cost to adopt a cat from the Real Art Ways exhibition starts at around $120.

“[Cats-in-Residence] turns something depressing into something magical,” Lieberman said. “Instead of crying about it, it makes it entertaining and beautiful, while at the same time addressing a huge problem.”

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Screenshots from Michelle Handelman’s “The Cat Show” Promo

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