Monday, June 21, 2010

July Issue: Time Out NY Kids Feature on Cynthia von Buhler - Written by Elizabeth Bird

Cat fancy
An artist brings her latest feline-centric story to life at Books of Wonder.

Note: The slideshow is now up on the Time Out Kids website. See it HERE.

Called “one of the top contemporary surrealists” by Art & Antiques magazine, Cynthia von Buhler boasts a résumé that includes painting, sculpture, performance and video projection, for which she uses materials and media such as living fauna, collage, and electronic audio. Her art has been published everywhere from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone, but she’s also become renowned for her children’s books.

After working on titles for other authors, beginning with 1998’s Little Girl in a Red Dress with Cat and Dog, Von Buhler—who lives in a castle-like home on Staten Island—has gone on to write and illustrate her own stories. The first, The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), was based on the artist’s encounter with a stray; she created the scenes by photographing dioramas in her childhood dollhouse.

For her next book, But Who Will Bell the Cats? (Houghton Mifflin, 2009), a riff on Aesop’s fable, Von Buhler acted as set builder, painter, sculptor, gardener, plumber and mason. An elaborate concoction of sumptuous interiors photographed in a model castle, the book is impressive in every detail, from the chateau’s real stone walls to the floors she crafted from inlaid wood, mother-of-pearl and plaster.

City kids can visit the world of Bell the Cats this summer, when Von Buhler re-creates the story in Books of Wonder’s storefront, using sets that appear in the book.
Life-size animated characters from the tale, among them a kitty maid in Alice-in-Wonderland garb, will play with the paper dolls and furniture—like children decorating a dollhouse.

DIY types have a chance to work with the artist on their own mini sets. The rest of us can consider the display a summertime version of NYC’s opulent holiday windows—and there’s no reason such a glorious tradition should be confined to the winter.
Books of Wonder, 18 W 18 St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-989-3270, Display will be on view July1–Aug 30. - EB
See the Time Out NY Kids article HERE. Coming soon: Pictures and a video of the actual window display.