Animal instincts

Metro Spirit | July 5, 2007
Cathy Dailey had enjoyed success as a painter of comic and cuddly critters, but when Home and Garden Television came knocking on her door in Athens, she didn’t know what to expect.

“They filmed me in my studio for about six hours and edited it down to six minutes,” she said. “I definitely have an appreciation for television production after that.”

HGTV filmed her for an episode of “Crafters Coast to Coast,” during which she made hand-painted lavender sachets that featured her cat, Zuki, one of two pets she loves so much she considers them her muses.

“I love animals and enjoy making artwork that shows the similarities between us and them by incorporating humor and facial expressions,” she said. Guilty cats, aloof pooches and birds with indecent thoughts play in her paintings, or may simply turn their backs to you, as in her popular “Kitty Butt” series.

But it’s the color that really catches the eye. No blue cats or green dogs ever ambled through Augusta, but they cavort like children on Dailey’s canvases, their moods and actions so enhanced by the lingering lines that Dailey uses that viewers frequently laugh out loud. Dailey giggles along.

“I always hope to make somebody smile, or that another pet owner will relate to my work,” she said.

Most of Dailey’s art features furry or feathered friends, and that made her a fine find for Fetch, the Surrey Center gourmet pet store owned by Tara and Kevin Scheyer. The Scheyers met her at Arts in the Heart of Augusta, where she sold her wares, and stocked their store with her stuff. Despite the curious location — a pet store, as opposed to a gallery — they invited her to show with them last year.

“She sold several pieces that night and all our customers, who were by that time familiar with her work, got to spend time with her. And they all fell in love with her, just like we did,” Tara said. Fetch will host a second showing of Dailey’s entertaining and eclectic artwork on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 6-8 p.m.

“This year we’re looking forward to her new mediums — some on wood, old dishes, metal,” Tara said. Dailey has been scouring the throwaway at thrift stores and resurrecting them as artwork — wooden bowls, trays, anything destined for the landfill — a practice that she calls “creative recycling.” She will also show more acrylic paintings than she has in the past.

Dailey also has a new obsession: owls. The saucer-eyed bird caught her fancy when she was out for a walk one evening and caught one of them observing her wisely from atop his perch on a telephone pole. She waited a while and another one came along. Their amiability and aloofness amused her.

But Dailey didn’t set out to draw dogs and collage cats. She trained formally in fine art techniques, earning a master’s degree at Mississippi University for Women, and, informally, learning from her artistic mother. In fact, she originally focused on the people and scenes that arose from her imagination after a childhood of travels throughout the Middle East and Africa.

But when she got a purring pet, she began toying with painting her cat and its kittens.

“The people kind of disappeared from my art,” Dailey said. “I love animals so much and I think we have a lot to learn from them. They bring us so much joy.”

Dailey turned that joy into an industry. She sells her cards, prints, paintings, found objects d’art and refurbished pieces online and at community shows like AthFest and Arts in the Heart of Augusta. Fetch, Art on Broad in Augusta, Helix and Agora in Athens, and a number of galleries and boutiques in other states carry her products.

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  • Address: 3124 B Washington Road, Augusta, GA 30907
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