Have You Seen These Glowing, Purring, Towering Cats in SF Yet?

For the next twelve months, the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is sponsoring a feline-forward installation at Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley.

San Francisco is in its light artwork era, for sure. Entwined — the Avatar-like forest of LEDs that glows inside Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow — is returning this week for its third iteration. Exploratorium’s annual light show, Glow, is now on full display. And just before the Thanksgiving holiday, a collection of six “Catoliths” soft launched at the previously described SF urban park.


Called Cathenge — a 3D printed public art piece ideated and created by SF-based artist David Normal, whose work frequently makes its way to Burning Man — the ring of nine-foot-tall felines was announced by SFAC on November 17. The half-dozen cats, all of which sat atop a pedestal base decorated with laser cut space cat-themed motifs and metallic gilding, glow in unison, emanating a circuit-party-like neon hue. 

The eyes of each cat glow like the plasma balls from your childhood. And, if you listen, the cats emit individual low-growling noises — purrings, if you will — that throb through the air. But you’ll only notice the sound if you set off the motion activation component of the piece; the soft roars can’t be heard if you’re admiring in the distance. 

Fun Fact: The array of harmonic tracks are actually samples of venerable “Solfeggio” frequencies, which are often used in meditative environments.

It’s not a mistake why these Catoliths are arranged in a circle; their placement symbolizes Normal’s concept of “Holofelinity” — of “Universal Cat Consciousness.’ It’s a tongue-in-cheek way to convey the notion that all sentient beings, a cohort that includes us humans, are interconnected to each other. And, thus, we can’t continue thriving and living and being to the highest degree unless we all are.

Per Normal, the notion here is “a healing message of timeless love and peace.”

“The Arts Commission is thrilled to be able to bring these whimsical and larger-than-life feline-tastic sculptures to Hayes Valley in partnership with artist David Normal,” said Ralph Remington, Director of Cultural Affairs, in a press release announcing the station. “After a brief pause of being able to install sculptures as part of this program due to COVID-19 restrictions, we thank the Hayes Valley community for their patience and support of this ongoing public art partnership. I hope this sculpture piques the curiosity of the public and brings joy to all cat lovers with its interactive and immersive elements, drawing them into this beautiful public outdoor space and vibrant neighborhood over the next year.” 

While Cathenege won’t officially debut until December 2nd at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the 32nd annual Hayes Valley Holiday Stroll, the towering collection of Sphinxes can currently be viewed at 50 Fell Street, day or night.

// For more information on Cathenge, visit cathenge.net; the 32nd annual Haye Valley Holiday Stroll and coincident ribbon cutting for the sculpture will be held on December 2nd at 6 p.m.

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