Friday, June 18, 2010

You Don’t Send Me Flowers

I used to be pleased to receive flowers at my office to celebrate a special occasion, such as a birthday or a wedding anniversary. Now I get excited when friends send me jpeg images of cats. I took in a large haul in the past few days, and one of the images jumped out of my in-box, as if to say, “Cat Lady: This Is Your Life.”

My friend Clifford sent me a link to, which must be reaching overflow capacity with its cute and heartwarming pictures of cats in all form and disguise. I subscribe to the theory of “life imitates art,” and when I saw the image of "Kitteh Noir," I was reminded yet again of how the process of collecting art has paralleled my efforts to rescue orphaned felines.

For the first four years of the new millennium, I did nothing but “collect cats.” During the past six years, as I have navigated and negotiated life with our ten cats, I have edited a book about the museum’s collection of American art, which has grown exponentially in a twenty-year period and continues to expand as I write. Collecting is apparently in my blood; it simply courses in different directions–cats and art.

Just as I have learned much from our cats about my own acquisitive impulses, so too have I have gained new insights from philanthropists into their motivations for collecting art and for donating their treasures to a public museum. Collecting qualifies as a feel-good endeavor.

So, go out and adopt another cat today! And please place your order to acquire the museum’s new book, American Art & Philanthropy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, coming soon to a bookstore (not PetSmart this time) near you.

Query of the Day: Does your cat resemble a work of art?

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