Atlanta's Feline Frenzy
From Outkats to Moammar Cattafi, Atlanta is riddled with homemade felines hiding all over town. Catlanta, an anonymous, Atlanta-based street artist, is using social media to create kitty scavenger hunts — sending Atlantans on wild goose, er, cat chases through the city.
Catlanta only started last year, but you've already hidden over 800 cats and become a local institution. How did it start?
"Well, it was based off of little cartoon drawing of my cat. I happened to find tons of magnet material, and I started cutting them out and putting them around the city. I just meant to leave them out, but I posted a few pictures (on Flickr) and saw people trying to find them based off the pictures, which I didn't expect. Once I saw people making it a scavenger hunt, that's how it sort of evolved."
So the kitty scavenger hunt was just a happy side product of a hobby of yours?
"Yeah, I realized that it was nice to see people interacting with the city in that way. I started thinking more and more about where I was going to put them and what places I wanted to take people in the city." Any criteria that informs your hiding places? "I've done everything from art galleries to cemeteries. So if people are going to go out to get that piece, they're going to have to interact with the space it's in, whether they like it or not. It's sort of a way that I can play with people; it's sort of a game for me. But there's really not a whole lot of planning. I don't look at a map or anything. It's more about what I do on a daily basis, about where I go, the things that I like."
So it's Atlanta according to Catlanta?
"Yeah, in a way."
Locals seem to see these cats as trophies. Why do you think they covet these kittens so much?
"I've never been quite sure. It really is something that's distinctly Atlanta, and it's becoming a badge of honor in Atlanta to own one. Hipster cred in the city is based on how many different street art magnets people have."
Hipster cred is putting it modestly. You're becoming a local icon — Nov. 10 was Catlanta Day, how did that feel? ( The High Museum of Art allowed free entry to anyone presenting a Catlanta cat.)
"I was glad that the High was receptive to it, and it was cool to see people be able to get into the museum for free and get to see art for free if they had one of my cats."
Do you consider your work art?
"Yeah, I do. I want people to realize that art can be simple and fun, and doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars to produce and be over your head."
How is Catlanta distinctly Atlanta?
"It was really in response to an anti-graffiti taskforce here last March. They cracked down on a lot of street art, which several of us were doing — I was doing it — and they made really harsh penalties for graffiti. So this was sort of a way to still have street art without the destructive aspect of it that people are familiar with."
Would only locals be able to find the cats?
"If you have an idea of the area, you could probably find it based off of the picture. The ones that are special to me, I make a little harder because I want to make sure that someone's really going out to look for it and really has to search for it. But as a whole, I try to make it so that really everyone can participate if they have a basic idea of the city."
FOLLOW HIM ON @CAT_LANTA FOR YOUR OWN UNIQUE SOUVENIR
NEW ORLEANS: FIVE SENSES
Stimulate all five of your senses at these iconic New Orleans institutions.
BY HANNAH SERENA GOLDSTEIN
Gumbo Shop www.gumboshop.com
Sample New Orleans' most famous fare at this French Quarter institution, which serves up numerous and eclectic variations of the classic dish like the seafood okra version.
Bourbon French Parfums www.neworleansperfume.com
Inhale the essences of jasmine, magnolia, lavender and honeysuckle (and those are just the florals) at this decadent perfumery, which has been a Nola mainstay for 164 years.
The Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion www.elmsmansion.com
Gaze at the façade of this easy-on-the eyes Italianate-style home, supported with Doric columns and surrounded by lovely gardens and patios.
Spotted Cat Music Club www.spottedcatmusicclub.com
Come and hear those moody New Orleans blues at the capital for the French Quarter's hottest and most soulful jazz musicians.
The Steamboat Natchez www.steamboatnatchez.com
An excursion on either level of the ship will have cool river air whipping your hair and face — just the way the Mississippi River Delta climate was meant to be felt.