Canby resident Donna Lebold is a cat person. If walking into her house and meeting her tabby didnt tip you off, the cat plates, magnets and figurines would.
But that isnt all of it.
Theres one collection of cats that stands out from the others. Sitting on a top shelf, these 18 cats look like something out of a dream or Alice in Wonderland, with a south-of-the-border flair.
Oaxaca, Mexico, is well-known for its hand-carved and hand-painted wooden animals. Some are animals we would recognize – porcupines, horses and coyotes – while others are of a more fantastical nature. But even the more homey animals come in odd poses, not-quite-right proportions and psychedelic colors.
Im a cat person, and I thought they were intriguing and quite unique because theyre all different according to the artists whim, Lebold said.
She picked up her first one – a little pink cat – just over the border from Arizona on a trip to Mexico with her brother. She was fascinated by the detailed designs and colors. Since then, her collection has grown as shes found them in shops in Arizona and an importer in Portland. Each is signed on the bottom by the artists name and most include OAX, which stands for Oaxaca.
But while the Oaxacan cats may be the most eye-grabbing of her figurine collection, many of her figurines – cats and otherwise – tell tales of far-off places.
A blue and white porcelain cat on a lower shelf is from Russia, and while she didnt pick it up herself, she has visited St. Petersburg and the palace of Catherine the Great.
She got the black sphinx-like cat when she went to see the King Tut exhibition. A friend brought her the black cat with flowers from Thailand, from an artist who wouldnt be making any more. She found the tall, black and gold glass one in Venice. Another, hanging on the wall, came from Tallin, Estonia, where the village symbol is a cat. Others came from her trips to Germany. The glass fox hunters remind her of her three-year stay in England in the 50s. Explore long enough, and different figurines in her collection will draw out stories of her grand tour in Europe, cruises all over the world, trips to Rome, snorkeling by a private island, and riding horses in England.
Though, these days, she spends most of her time at home in Canby, or with her two great-granddaughters, Lebolds collections prove what she says is true, Ive seen a lot.