FELIX THE CAT
Cat's Out of The Bag
Opening Reception: May 8, 2015 6-10PM
Exhibition Dates: May 8 - May 30 2015
A simply drawn black and white cat may seem an unlikely choice for the world’s first cartoon superstar, but Felix the Cat, with his magic bag of tricks and killer personality, is no ordinary feline. Though Felix has gone through numerous iterations over the near century since his debut, he has always had an undeniable influence on creatives around the world, no matter their age or medium. This has never been more evident than in “Felix: The Cat’s Out Of the Bag”, a group art show curated by Slow Culture gallery. The Highland Park outfit gathered nearly 40 members of their creative community and tasked them with creating a piece of work that embodied the world famous cartoon cat. This stable, which includes emerging and established artists, cartoonists, creative directors, tattoo artists, and more, jumped at the chance to pay homage to a figure that had for many of them made an indelible impact on their art.
“Felix the Cat has been a metaphysical extension of my visual language for an extended period of time,” says fine artist Kostas Seremetis, while designer Darren Romanelli marvels at the fact that Felix is “almost 100 years old and still super relevant.”
The mischievous cat made his debut in the 1919 silent short “Feline Follies”, but it wasn’t until “The Adventures of Felix” that he got his everlasting name. Felix the Cat immediately became wildly popular with audiences everywhere, and by the 1920s he was drawing droves of viewers to the theaters. His cartoons were early examples of surrealism in animated storytelling, and Felix’s adventures often reflected current cultural happenings and attitudes. As the first fully formed and realized animated animal of all time, Felix permeated much of pop culture and beyond: first as a character, and later as a commodity.
Felix was the mascot for the 1922 New York Yankees team and the US Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 31 even co-opted the character for their unit insignia in the late 1920s. Perhaps most historically, Felix the Cat was one of the first images to be broadcast on television in 1929 (in the form of a 13” paper mache figurine spun around on a record player), and early on he became a totem of sorts in Los Angeles, with his cheeky grin emblazoned on the giant sign of the Felix Chevrolet dealership in downtown LA.
The real appeal of Felix, not just to artists but to all of those who appreciate the dreamlike wonder and outsider spirit of the playful cat, is perhaps best voiced by tattoo artist Matt McMormick: “He’s always come off as the mischievous underdog. His cultural significance has always been influential…growing up listening to punk and seeing The Queers use of him as a mascot, it’s like he’s kind of always attracted a different breed of fan.”
A cross-section of these fans will be showing their work at Felix: The Cat’s Out of the Bag on May 8th at Slow Culture. The group show features everything from mixed media to sculpture to sign painting to a TV installation, all of which capture the different iterations and interpretations of the first cat ever to become a true international icon.
Aaron Elvis Jupin
Jamal Gunn Becker
Kristofferson San Pablo
Langley Fox Hemingway
Letter Cat Sign Co.
Ryan De La Hoz