I imagine the first  time artist Simone Johnson happened upon a cat nestled amongst the fruits and canned goods at the local bodega, her first reaction as would be mine, would be to touch the cat. No, sign says "do not touch the cat" . These retail felines can be found throughout the over 10,000 bodega's in the New York City area. Derived from a Spanish word meaning storeroom or wine cellar, the bodega is a retail staple and the cat is usually present within. Keeping the shop free from any small furred intruders, which shall remain unnamed........these working warriors even have their own Instagram .

Johnson was inspired by these felines and has featured them in her art ever since the first encounter at the bodega. She creates her work at  Pure Vision Arts, a NYC non-profit that provides people with autism and development disabilities a safe encouraging  space to creatively express themselves. 

Pamela Rogers the director of PVA remarks that Johnson has a great sense of colour design and texture and patterning. It is a talent that goes beyond PVA's celebration of neurodiversity, and is an example of what the organization calls " Savant Garde" a term that recognizes the PVA artists as fitting in a larger history of figures who have made major contributions to the arts and sciences ( Mozart, Andy Warhol, and Steve Jobs, for example) In Rogers words: "There's a culture of autism thats maybe existed that we just hadn't been aware of, because we didn't have the language. But these people have really changed history - people with this ability to hyper focus and create something and dive into something to make new discoveries." 

The full interview with Simone and Pamela can be found within the Bodega Cat with Fruits and Vegetables 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle from Kinstler in the shop.

Kelly Lewis Cards & Gifts 

cat laying on shelf in a corner store


  • I absolutely love bodega cats! Thank you for providing a bit of context on them. I’d love to know more about the history of how they came to be.

  • The first time I was in NYC and popped into a corner store, I saw a cat sleeping in the bags of chips. Shocked…but later found out these cats live in most of the several thousand little shops or bodegas. So, cute to see this beautiful puzzle paying homage to these furry friends,

    jillian Carole

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