Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Arlo the Artist

by Tanner (resident house cat)

As many of you know, I took in Arlo some months ago and have been trying to raise him, but it has not been easy. I have been trying to find him some meaningful cat-work to do, but he hasn't been cooperative.

Lately, however, he has been developing his artistic side, so I decided to interview him about what he says is his true purpose in the household, so here goes:

Tanner: Arlo, tell the readers of Mommy's blog what it is that you do.

Arlo: I'm a deconstructivist feline artisticat working with paper disassemblages.

Tanner: Arlo, what you do is bite up paper and make a mess!

Arlo: Art is in the eye of the creator, Tanner. I think that not only am I cuter than the average kitty, but I'm also wonderfully creative. You have no appreciation. But that's to be expected since you came from the dumpster.

Tanner: Well, there's no use arguing with you—especially since you are now big enough to hold your own in cat-rasslin'. Why don't you tell the blog-readers about your, er, work.

Arlo: I work with newsprint, primarily the Roanoke Times, which is easy to deconstruct and reduce to its essential elements, that I then rearrange to make meaningful statements about the impermanence of words, the transcendency of the feline spirit, and the wasteful nature of our times. Here, let me show the blog readers some of my disassemblages so they will know whereof I speak.

In the above installation, for instance, I carefully select pages that make a statement, then dissassemble, reimagine, and rearrange those pages and parts thereof to reflect a cataclysmic state of the feline interpretation of life. I find my decontructionism techniques wonderfully cathartic.

Sometimes I immerse myself so totally in my work that I become a part of it, and it is hard to tell where the cat ends and the newsprint begins.

Sometimes I hide myself in my work—the better to find myself later, and thus my work becomes a catalyst for my own self-discovery.


Other times, I just catapult my work out there and let it go where it will. I try to cover a lot of territory—or at least a lot of carpet—when I do an installation.

Sometimes I work small and subtle. Notice that in the installation below, the cat (Moi!) is the dominant figure. In this one, I show how the cat dominates and separates his art, while at the same time becoming a central part of it.

Below, my art covers my head, showing how scraps of inconsequential media can obliterate our identities. Purrsonally, I think this is one of my best disassemblages when it comes to social commentary. Notice how my tail balances the destruction and yet keeps me grounded.

In the disassemblage below, I show how I have dominated the media and squashed it. Only my reeled-in tail betrays that I have no completely slipped the bonds of print.

Tanner: What you're telling me makes no sense, Arlo!

Arlo: That's because you do not understand art, Tanner. You cannot comprehend my purrpose. Now in the disassemblage below, notice how I divide and conquer the media, while reducing some of it to smaller bits which orbit the central figure, which is yours truly. Note how my tail reaches to the outer edge of my galaxy while reinforcing the idea that I am the center of my universe.

Here's a different perspective, in which I have one of my hi-beams on, the better to illuminate my message of dividing and conquering.

Below is still a work in progress.

Sometimes it helps if I look at my art from a different angle.

And sometimes I just dive right in and start work.

Luckily I have a lot of material to work with. Purrhaps this assemblage in progress will be a political statement. Purrhaps not. I'm open to ideas.

Tanner: OK, OK, we've seen enough of what you do. Your point is—?

Arlo: What's black and white and shred all over? Me and my art!

Tanner: I think your art is a catastrophe in the making.
Update: more on Arlo's art here:

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Blogger Lennon Faris said...

Well this just made my morning. This is exactly how I feel about most modern art, too, 'Arlo.' lol. Visiting from JR blog :)

9:23 AM  
Blogger Claire Bobrow said...

That was totally brilliant and hilarious! I'm now a lover of paper disassemblages, and of Arlo. Thank you!

11:29 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

A fabulous and delightful post!!!!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara Etlin said...

You tell him, Arlo! We artists are so misunderstood. I think your deconstructions are purr-fect.

-- Barb, visiting from JR's blog

12:43 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wonderful. Is Arlo's art available for purrchase, or is he above that sort of materialistic attitude?

2:35 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Arlo doesn't want to cheapen his art by puttig a price on it. He's afraid he might sell himself short.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Kate Larkindale said...

I just hope Arlo understands the importance of cleaning up after himself once he's finished a project…. Or does he prefer to blur the boundary of creation and the created?

2:22 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

He blurs the boundaries.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Panda in Chief said...

An excellent article and interview. Creativity in cats is often scoffed at. Purrhaps Arlo might enjoy reading "Why Cats Paint" an excellent volume of various art movements that some cats have become proficient in.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Give Arlo's destructive tendencies, I shudder what to think what he could do with paint on his paws.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Kim Batchelor said...

I, too, have a cat named Arlo. He is unable to create any art, though, as he is in a constant life-or-death struggle, a la The Hunger Games, with his 'brother' Guthrie. And District Bedroom always pays the price.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Clearly, Arlo has found his new and well suited calling, redecorating Beckys house. Thank you for giving him a platform. Made my day and I'm sharing with friends also seeking their true purpose in life:)

11:57 AM  

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