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Maneki Neko: Japan's Beckoning Cats – From Talisman to Pop Icon

February 22 - August 4, 2013

Since the Edo period (1603 - 1868) a fabricated cat with a paw upraised in the Japanese gesture of beckoning has been considered a good luck charm, drawing good fortune to individuals and businesses. This exhibition highlights a unique selection of more than 150 cats collected by maneki neko aficionado Billie Moffitt, as well as interpretations of this tradition by renowned contemporary artists. Whether carved in wood or stone, sculpted in clay or formed in papier mâché, these alluring and enigmatically artful felines express aspects both of historic Japanese lore and contemporary pop culture.

To celebrate the exhibition, Bellevue Arts Museum has invited several contemporary Northwest artists to create their own interpretations of this Japanese tradition. Participating artists include: Diem Chau, Joey Chiarello, Jeffry Mitchell, Saya Moriyasu, Moxie, Yuki Nakamura, George Rodriguez, Maki Tamura, Jason Walker, and Patti Warashina.




Maneki Neko
Painted ceramic
13 in.
Gift of Billie Moffitt
Collection of Mingei International Museum

Photo: Anthony Scoggins


Organized by Mingei International Museum, San Diego, California. Local presentation curated by Stefano Catalani, and made possible by the City of Bellevue Arts Program. Japanese tansu chests generously provided by Honeychurch Antiques, Fine Asian Art, and Galen Lowe Art & Antiques.