SIMONE JOHNSON'S BODEGA CATS
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.