The Siamese Cat (by Mrs. G.)

Some years ago, Mrs. G. was rummaging through an estate sale (though the estate was a simple two bedroom rambler) when she had that feeling, accompanied by raised hairs on the back of her neck, that someone was staring at her. When she turned around, all she saw was a something...a large painting of a Siamese cat, though its wide blue eyes were eagle eying her. She walked past it to look at the paperback books.


But she kept coming back to the painting. She can't explain it. It was definitely the eyes that beguiled her.  The cat looked like she (no proof of the cat's sex, but Mrs. G. had a solid hunch) had secrets. Like she knew something important. Mrs. G. caved, forked out ten bucks for the painting and carefully put it in the back of her car.


Mrs. G. should probably back up here and mention she has nothing more than a conventional affection for cats. She really likes the two she has, but the attachment doesn't extend past their furry faces. She is not even casually into animal decor--no lion or snow goose pillows, no puppy figurines, no moon howling wolfs on anything. She stays away from animal adorned clothing. Even her socks are mammal free.


When Mrs. G. carried the Siamese painting into the house, Mr. G. was waiting at the top of the stairs.


"What is that?" he asked, pointing at the (ok, ok) large painting.


"It's just something I picked up at an estate sale," Mrs. G. said, trying to make a straight beeline to her bedroom to avoid questions or criticisms. For whatever reason, this cat had become high-ranking and distinguished in her mind. She felt unexplainably protective of it.


"Wait, wait, wait. Is that a cat?" asked Mr. G. "Did you buy a painting of a cat? How much did you pay for it?"


"Two dollars." See? This cat had power. Mrs. G. was lying for it.


"I don't know, dear, I do not know," he said shaking his head. It would be nice to say this was the first purchase of Mrs. G's that he questioned. No cigar. "Just don't hang it in our bedroom."


After hanging it prominently in their bedroom, Mrs. G. stepped back to admire the cat. Maybe it wasn't the eyes. Maybe it was the shape of its imposing head. It was unexplainable but official: Mrs. G. loved this cat.


Mr. G. stopped cold when they were climbing into bed. "I thought we agreed that you weren't going to hang that in here. It's looking right at us. It's creepy."


"It's not creepy," Mrs. G. countered, "it has character. I wouldn't be surprised if we found out this was worth some money at the Antiques Road Show."


"Oh here we go with the Road Show. Heather, that cat is a paint-by-numbers."


Mrs. G. often trots out the Road Show when she's trying to justify her taste or expenditure.


But nobody in her family buys it. Her daughter often laughs and says if there was anything in their house that would garner significant money at the Road Show, Mrs. G. had probably painted it or dismantled it for a collage...or sold it at a yard sale.


No one person in her house respects her art.


No one.


Mr. G. has a vigorous and self preserving ability to block out anything unpleasant in his life, so he eventually forgot the painting existed and it has been hanging in their room for six years. 


And the Siamese cat still holds sway over Mrs. G. She often stares at it, wondering who painted it and just what role the cat played in his or her universe.


It takes a commitment to paint a large picture of a cat. They're mobile creatures.


Mrs. G. has been redecorating her bedroom, trying to spruce things up. Decorating in Mrs. G's life amounts to moving things from one room into works for her. She's been changing up the furniture, the quilts and the artwork, but she hasn't touched the Siamese cat despite Mr. G's encouragement.


"That cat has been staring at me for six years. Enough." he says.


Mrs. G. still thinks the painting might be valuable folk art.


So, Dear Reader, the cat's fate rests in your hands. Be gentle. Be honest.


Be gentle.




First off, the flash of the camera has erased some of the depth of the painting. Keep that in mind.




Aren't the eyes compelling?




Aren't the quirky whiskers charming and realistic?




Folk art...




or paint-by-numbers?




Or folk art?


No pressure.

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Reader Comments (73)

I am with you Mrs. G there is just something about that sweet kitty face. It reminds me of a feline Mona Lisa. Have you thought of putting it with your "Mary" statues. Tell people it is a feline Madonna.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermargaret/Who asked you?

Mrs G, dear? You know we love you and would NEVER question your impeccable taste but it's time to let the cat find another wall. Maybe in another house.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercallyn

I'd say folk art. The head looks kittenish, a little primitive, not as realistic as a paint-by-numbers would try to be. Unless it was a paint-by-numbers of a folk art primitive kitten.

I would probably keep it around to creep out my kids, like the painting of my great-grandmother with the eyes that follow you around the room.

It is interesting...

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

Can you make out the signature? Try Googling it.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

How did either of you get any sleep with that, that, ....oversized, scary animal staring at you??? "Creepy"....that's quite diplomatic. I say, you've had your 6 years of it in the bedroom, now it's time for 6 years without it in the bedroom.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArli

I may have gone one step futher than you, Mrs. G. Back in the day when I was a lazy but paid citizen (as opposed to the hard-working unpaid citizen I am today) I had a "folk art" painting commissioned of my cats. Yes, with other random cats in the painting as well. It isn't haning in the bedroom anymore but I can't bear to part with it. Perhaps one day, at my estate sale, someone will become enamored of it and take it home to hang in their bedroom. Full circle.

PS: You can call your siamese beauty folk art.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

I may have gone one step futher than you, Mrs. G. Back in the day when I was a lazy but paid citizen (as opposed to the hard-working unpaid citizen I am today) I had a "folk art" painting commissioned of my cats. Yes, with other random cats in the painting as well. It isn't haning in the bedroom anymore but I can't bear to part with it. Perhaps one day, at my estate sale, someone will become enamored of it and take it home to hang in their bedroom. Full circle.

PS: You can call your siamese beauty folk art.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

My dear... that is an ugly painting. It's an ugly cat. The nose is too long and the eyes look lifeless to me. If it were me, I would get that thing far, far away from me.

However, I do understand your attachment to it. While I personally don't think I could ever learn to love that painting, I do have an unnatural love for a tiny two-inch-square framed embroidery of a small bunch of flowers. Well, the frame is two inches square. The actual picture is probably about an inch and a quarter. I got it from a friend who moved to the States from Poland and brought it with her as gifts to her new family and friends. I have carried that thing with me for 10 years, and it always has to have a prominent spot on the wall -- however "prominent" a two-inch-square embroidered bunch of flowers can be, anyway. My husband thinks it's stupid, but I don't care. It goes up. I'm in love with this quirky piece of "art," and I need to see it every day.

But at least mine isn't gigundous. :-P

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmyBean Trying to be gently and non-judgemental,

Mr. G is a saint to have endured for six years. Time to give him a break.

How about using it to decorate a quirky, idiosyncratic, yet creative and interesting space for yourself? I have such a little nook of my own, where I indulge in my tastes for Guadalupe figures, calaveras, and odd botanica candles.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterg

Mr. G is a saint. Ditch the cat.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

I would say it's folk art, too. And very sweet. But maybe a reading nook would be a cozy place for the cat to live?

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranon

To each her own, Mrs. G. How dull a world it would be if everyone had the same taste?

That being said -- I must honestly agree with Mr. G.

But if you love it, you love it!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter*m*

I think the cat in that painting was probably someone's beloved pet. I am not a cat person so I can't imagine having that hanging in my house, but I can see how someone that likes cats might like it. I think it does look kind of folk arty. I agree with the poster that suggested putting the cat in a special spot just for you!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNana B

Mr.G has done his penance , ditch Kitty Gigantica! Maybe you can trot this "lovely" out for Halloween or Cinco de Mayo parties?!!! Enough of the creepy cat in the boudoir. Sorry, no beating around the bush here, that cat has got to go somewhere (else!)

We have a weird "ancestor" painting that seems to get "decorated" according to the holidays, most recently "Gertrude" was sporting a pirate hat from Long John Silver's. Maybe Battlestar Galllacticat could be festooned similarly for an amusing hallway conversation piece?
Sorry, you asked...don't hold it against me!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBramble

The look on that cat's face is eerily realistic, I'll say that. Let's go with folk art that should hang somewhere besides the bedroom. How's that for compromise?

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKizz

Is the cat standing up?! Looking at the angle of the shoulders (?) that's what it looks like. I would say that Mr. G. has been quite understanding--maybe use it spruce up your laundry/writing space?

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

Mrs G,

I think it may be time to share your painting with the rest of the world, but you could turn it into a screensaver or desktop image on your computer, then you could see it everyday, but not every night.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterklcrab

I think it will work at the Women's Colony to keep the staff in line. "YOU are being WATCHED."

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermiddle-aged-woman

I gently suggest that perhaps it's time to see Mr. G's side of the story and move the kitty out of the bedroom.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen on the Edge

One step above paint-by-numbers, I reckon. I want to marry Mr. G next, for his generosity.
How 'bout making it a give-away prize in your next contest, and see how many try to win it. (Maybe you'll get to keep it!)

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

Mr. G is nominated for sainthood. That cat has to go!


November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdarla

I think a compromise is in order. You clearly love this painting and Mr. G. has been a dear for six years. How about putting her in another room? Like maybe where you write? Don't get rid of her entirely!!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel from Maine

I like the idea of putting your beloved cat painting in a room that is yours, and yours alone and where you can truly appreciate it.

As far as whether or not it's a paint-by-numbers, I'm guessing not. It looks like oil on canvas to me (I should know...I was an art major). Paint-by-numbers are usually acrylic on cardboard, right? It's definitely got the softness and detail I associate with oil paints.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I picked right up on the shoulder thing too, that cat looks like it should be sitting in an armchair or something, the way it's shoulders are scooped forwards, or like it was done by one of those high school photo photographers that make you twist and contort in unnatural poses for your portrait. Definitely not paint by number. But if folk art if what people call unprofessional paintings, then folk art it is!!! I like it BTW, and I think that announcing your love for it is totally okay, sort of like thumbing your nose at humanity. But... it's Mr. G's bedroom too, I think contortion kitty has to go to a space which is solely Mrs. G's.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElleM

No, I know what it is, it's like when you take your own pic with a digital camera, that angle of the shoulders and arms that you end up with. Kitty painted its own portrait!!!!!!!!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElleM

I love it! It doesn't appear to be paint by numbers, but maybe from the Bob Ross "Happy Trees" school of painting. The eyes are compelling. Is the kitteh keeping a secret, or does she merely see a bird or mouse that needs to be pounced upon? I think it should be prominately displayed in the Women's Colony main house. But what do I know? I have a picture of the Mona Lisa with pink curlers in her hair.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelley

Totally leaving no comment in the space for a comment.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Girl in Wisconsin

Folk art, for sure. And I wonder what the cat is looking at so intently.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterknittergran

I love animals the way you do Mrs. G, meaning that I love my own and that's about it. That said, I own about 300 photos of a white cat that seem to range from the early 70's through the 80's. A cat I have never seen in person.

For privacy reasons I can't give all the details, but a man with no immediate family passed away and some of his possesions had to be "disposed" of by my office. I dutifully shredded anything personal (with his name and such), but when I came across albums full of this cat I just couldn't throw them out. They didn't have any children and this cat was their world. There are photos of "Snowflake" in Christmas outfits, next to an Easter basket, lounging majestically on a beloved afgan, etc...

I've got them put up in a box, I told my husband I was going to make an enormous "Snowflake" collage one day. (he is at least as patient as Mr. G when it comes to my craziness) I'm not a hoarder or anything - it's just that cat was so beloved by somebody it seemed just heartbreaking to throw it all out. It really MEANT something to that family, you know? You know.

Keep your folksy painting, just take it out of the bedroom for awhile. Somebody really loved that kitty in your painting, and things made with love are always valuable.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrb

Sometimes when things "speak" to us we just need to keep it to ourselves.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrightside Susan

Or blog about it, of course.

Thanks for the laugh this morning!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrightside Susan

Both compelling and a totally creepy way. I don't think I could go to sleep with it looking at me. Mr. G. must love you very much.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenni in KS

Remember what you did with the diet books? I think its time for Mr. G. to roast some marshmellows! Sorry, I have a hard time even looking at it on the computer screen. Folk Art for sure, a paint by numbers would look better. Man, I feel like a heel, I love cats, but thats scary.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterd

Sorry, hello kitty, but for me it's goodbye kitty. Thanks for asking.
It's a shared space. So Mr. G ...
Whenever I do things like this, my dear friends say things like, "Oh, I thought you bought it for the special frame"....

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentere

Folk art: suitable for hanging in a laundry room or basement only.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

That would make a TOTALLY AWESOME white elephant gift!!!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee in Seattle

Dear Mrs. G.,
Maybe you should give Mr. G a break.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Krieger

Art is whatever speaks to you, whether it's paint-by-numbers or a Renoir.

However, I do think that bedroom decor should be mutually agreed on by both you and Mr. G. Which is not to say that it might look charming in the dining room...?

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenn

Folk art! A while back I picked up a LARGE, hig quality oil painting of a red headed lady in a blue-and-rust argyle sweater at the Goodwill. I hung it prominently in the living room and told people it was my Aunt Lucretia. Hubbie and kids complained about it so much that I finally ditched it during our cross country move. I wish I had kept it. Don't get rid of the kitty painting!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenny

I'm with Mr. G. on this one.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSorry to say it

Umm ..... Mrs G? Will there be some kind of policy about artwork in public spaces at The Women's Colony when Oprah comes through with the property? I'm just asking is all .....

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertrashalou

Well, art is subjective. That said *I* think the painting needs to be chucked. Very creepy, indeed.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Let's just say that if this painting were to show up in Women's Colony giveaway, I wouldn't enter.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercarson

It's a verk of ahhht dahlink!!!

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeca

Mrs. G, I love you with all my heart, but I'll put it this way: If it were my fiance trying to keep that portrait in our bedroom, I would ABSOLUTELY take matters into my own hands. And make it look like an accident.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarolina

It is at this point that I would tuck the painting gently away, I think. However, as I am a rude and vindictive person with an absolutely inscrutable sense of humor, I would likely tuck it gently away under the covers on my spouse's side of the bed. To wait expectantly for him. Creepily. In the night.

I do not actually recommend this course of action because few people are capable of putting up with my brand of nonsense for long. But I say the painting is folk art, and you should be able to hang it somewhere. But maybe give Mr. G a break and have that somewhere be a place not directly staring at him while he sleeps: it's folk art, not a cardboard cut-out of Edward Cullen.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGrace B

hmm... paint by numbers. It would be great cabin art!

But I thought stacking the same image like you did in the post made it very modern art-ish!

I swear those whiskers were drooping more by the last image.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersaucypedanticwench

I *am* what you would call a 'cat person.' I am typing this one-handed because there is a cat curled up in my other arm.

But I have to say, my first reaction on seeing the painting was "holy crap."

Mr. G. is a saint and you should kiss him as you take the painting to a more neutral territory.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Got here late, and it looks as though the verdict is in already! Art is such a personal thing, isn't it? But somewhere other than the bedroom...

Also, take lots of photos (or, rather, one photo, order several dozen copies) and make them pop up in unexpected places just to bug Mr. G. Like it's haunting him because he made you move the painting.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent

It's night time now, I just had to come back on more time before bedtime to look at the kitteh. I think it should be our mascot.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElleM

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