When Susan Michals was plotting the second iteration of her feline-focused art exhibit, Cat Art Show L.A. 2: The Sequel, she asked artists to ponder what cats truly mean to them. Do they conjure fond memories of cuddling with a childhood pet? Traumatizing occurrences that ended in scratched arms? Endless bouts of sneezing and a breakout of hives?

Artists from tattoo celeb Kat Von D to pop-surrealist icon Mark Ryden and the dynamic duo CYRCLE submitted works that answer that question. Michals, who's also the mastermind behind CatCon L.A., is a working journalist who's written for publications such as Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal . She says that helped equip her to choose a unique group for the show. (That and owning a cat, Miss Kitty Pretty Girl.)

“Many of the artists are people I've interviewed before, and many new ones are artists I have long admired,” Michals said in an email interview. “There's really no difference between the first and second show as far as selection is concerned. I did select a couple of unsolicited submissions as well.”

Michals ended up with 118 works, which presented organizational difficulties. “The only challenge is getting all the art in time for the show,” Michals says. “It's like herding cats.”

Among the many pieces, you'll find recognizable faces, cat and human alike. For instance, artist James Seward created a portrait of Ghost-era Patrick Swayze surrounded by an aura of light next to a cat that also glows. They both look into the distance and Swayze smiles serenely, as if he knows something the viewer doesn’t.

Credit: Courtesy Rich Hardcastle

Credit: Courtesy Rich Hardcastle

Ricky Gervais posed for a photograph by Rich Hardcastle called Routine Mischief. Gervais stands amid a flock of pigeons in flight. He looks majestic and for a moment you might not even notice that he's wearing a furry cat suit and holding the head under the crook of his arm. Twenty prints of the image will be available for sale at the show, 10 of which are signed by Gervais.  

Michals was shocked by the sheer number of people who wanted to get involved with the project. Even though she left the theme open for interpretation so artists could feel free to portray cats as horrible creatures if they wanted, most of the pieces represent cats in a good light.

The first Cat Art Show, in 2014, brought out thousands of cat fanciers to ooh and ahh at the artwork. But people had been enthusiastic about the project since word go. “I was surprised when, for the first show, I had over 40 artists committed after only two weeks,” Michals says.

Credit: Courtesy Paul Koudounaris

Credit: Courtesy Paul Koudounaris

Not only can you gaze at lots of furry faces, you can also feel good about it: A portion of proceeds from sale of the art will go to Kitten Rescue.

Cat Art Show L.A. 2: The Sequel opens Thu., March 24, with a reception from 8 to 10 p.m. and runs through Sun., March 27; Think Tank Gallery, 939 Maple Ave., downtown; catartshow.com.

LA Weekly