A Utah Schoolteacher’s Exceptional Collection of Cat Art Is Meow for Sale

Patrick Eddington wrote to countless writers and artists, from Kiki Smith to Marcel Dzama to Ray Bradbury, asking them to send him cat-related works. They did.

Gayleen Aiken, “Bad Kitties Wreck the Room” (all images courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries)

Hold onto your wallets: a massive collection of cat art is now on the market, from paintings to woodblock prints to face jugs (with feline features, of course).

The 246 lots, sold through Quinn’s Auction Galleries and open to online bidding, will go up for grabs through this Saturday, November 12. They arrive from the collection of one Patrick Eddington, a Utah-based artist and high school art teacher who cultivated a unique project for much of his life. Simply titled the “Cat Project,” it emerged through Eddington’s extensive correspondence with countless writers and visual artists, from Kiki Smith to Marcel Dzama to Ray Bradbury. Eddington asked each of them to create or share an existing cat-related work and send it to him; he envisioned putting them all on display one day.

Marcel Dzama, "Breaking the Boat"
Marcel Dzama, “Breaking the Boat”

“This project is a labor of love,” Eddington wrote of his endeavor in a 2004 letter. “It will culminate as a large book and traveling exhibition. It will also help Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I’ve asked individuals I admire to create cat-related works. They are not the typical cat images but creative works.”

Eddington passed away earlier this year, and his vision was, unfortunately, never realized. According to the auction, his family wanted to sell the works to cat lovers as a way to honor his memory, and a portion of the proceeds will still go to the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Scanning the lots, it’s clear that Eddington aimed to achieve diverse results: his collection boasts a wide array of styles, from more conceptual art to folk art to works by comic artists including Robert Crumb and Daniel Clowes. The letters he sent to artists and writers were, as Quinn’s notes, “charming and persuasive”; you could say the same about many of the artworks he received in return.

Kiki Smith, “Ginzer” (2000)

Eddington himself was famous within his local arts community for his affinity for felines. Known to friends as “Pat the Cat,” he portrayed the furry creatures in paintings, etchings, and prints, as well as designed and illustrated books on them. Some of his creations can be found in collections around the world, according to the Utah magazine 15 bytes, including that of Henry Miller’s estate.

“Some artists paint dogs, horses or fish, but the object of his art and design was the cat,” Utah artist Tom Kass told 15 bytes. “Not the fluffy, cute cats and kittens one finds on the web. His image of the cat was mostly a cat with a self-serving agenda.”

Some of Eddington’s own works are featured in the Quinn’s auction, including the aforementioned cat face jugs. All in all, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t like — even if you’re more of a dog person.

Patrick Eddington, “Two-Handled Cat Jug”
August Walla, “Katze”
Anderson Johnson, "Woman and Cat"
Anderson Johnson, “Woman and Cat”
Ted Gordon, “Pink Collar” (1980)
Moises Jimene, “Carved Oaxacan Cat Sculpture”
Clive Barker, "Untitled Cat drawing" (2003)
Clive Barker, “Untitled Cat drawing” (2003)
Robert Crumb, letter with ink drawing "Bernie Sitting on my Chest and Pawing My Face to Get My Attention"
Robert Crumb, letter with ink drawing “Bernie Sitting on my Chest and Pawing My Face to Get My Attention” (2001)
Hilary Paynter, “Summer Field”
William Wegman, "Table of Contents" (c. 1987)
William Wegman, “Table of Contents” (c. 1987)

 “The Patrick J. Eddington Cat Project Auction” continues online at Quinn’s Auction Galleries through November 12.

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