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Cat collection tells of an adventurous life

by: RACHEL LYNN ALDRICH - Lebold's largest collection of foreign cats is the colorful collection of hand-carved cats from Oaxaca, Mexico. 
by: RACHEL LYNN ALDRICH - Donna Lebold has collected cats from all over the world, including the one she is holding from Thailand. Canby resident Donna Lebold is a cat person. If walking into her house and meeting her tabby didn’t tip you off, the cat plates, magnets and figurines would.

But that isn’t all of it.

There’s 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.

“I’m a cat person, and I thought they were intriguing and quite unique because they’re all different according to the artist’s whim,” Lebold said.by: RACHEL LYNN ALDRICH - This blue and white cat came from Russia.

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 she’s found them in shops in Arizona and an importer in Portland. Each is signed on the bottom by the artist’s 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.by: RACHEL LYNN ALDRICH - This artwork wiith a snake wrapped around it is called the fertility cat.

A blue and white porcelain cat on a lower shelf is from Russia, and while she didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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, Lebold’s collections prove what she says is true, “I’ve seen a lot.”




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