Here’s something that one wouldn’t necessarily expect to see at an art fair – a large 96 x 105 x 36 inch “kitty condo” by the artist Adrian Wong, titled “The House That Snoopy Built,” from 2019. In this case, “Snoopy” is not the character from the Charles Schultz Peanuts comic, but rather a “piebald cat reincarnated as Omar.” Okay, I think I’m going to need to do some research here to make sense of all of this … scroll down for more.
First, there’s Wong’s background: he has a Masters in Research Psychology from Stanford, followed by an MFA from Yale. The press release from Carrie Secrist Gallery, which was exhibiting this at the 2020 Armory Show, explains that he is interested in animal communication as a field of study, aimed at translating the behavior of animals, and to better understand the motives and affective lives of non-human species. As you can see in the background of the first picture above, there was an accompanying wall panel (or canvas as stand-alone art work?) that helps explain this sculpture:
But there’s even more to it than this … according to this article I found online, Wong (seated, below left) collaborated with a “telepathic animal communicator” named Lynn Schuster (seated, below right) to design and build this structure, as well as get information about people’s pets in order to paint these portraits behind them that reflect the lives (and past lives?) of the animals. I know, this is a bit confusing, and I admit I’m getting more confused as I’m trying to learn more about it. In another article, I learn that Wong connected with Schuster after the unexpected passing of his pet rabbit, Omar. Schuster, in a session with the artist, expressed her belief that the rabbit Omar had been a reincarnation of Snoopy, the childhood pet cat belonging to Wong’s wife.
Interpret all of this and believe or don’t believe these concepts on your own accord … for me, sharing this art and what I could find in an attempt to explain it came from my own curiosity as to why this “kitty condo” was being exhibited in the context of an art fair. I generally don’t like to have to work so hard and research so much backstory in order to understand the meaning of an art work, but that’s just me.