“It was like cats just knew she was Cat Lover.”–Katharine Davis writing about her mother Karen Moberg
Writing Caticons required a significant amount of research, as I wanted to tell not only my story of the pieces in my collection, but also the history of the pieces themselves—such the artists who were often inspired by their own cats and the previous owners (called provenance in artistic circles), such as Vivien Leigh who owned the Winstanley ceramic cat on p. 161 in Caticons and the Faberge cat belonging to Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, a member of the Russian royal family found on page 133. As one would expect, the older items generally proved harder to investigate like the 4,000 year old Cat Cup on the cover whose mysteries I continue to pursue. Stay tuned on that one…
Information on newer items especially with the use of the Internet is much easier to find. However, one item, like a feral cat, proved elusive—the lovely gray tabby ceramic cuff bracelet found on page 16 in the Caticons – Mini Book “Stray Cats.” The obviously talented ceramic artist signed the piece “KM Maui”, an easy clue to both identity and location, right? WRONG, an exhaustive search of books, the Internet, and databases of maker’s marks, failed to unearth any hints as to the identity of the ceramics master whom I decided had to be woman to design such a whimsical bracelet that fits as beautifully and comfortably as this one does.
While browsing on Etsy recently, I saw a bracelet that looked very similar to my beloved bracelet and contacted the seller immediately. The vendor Katharine Davis responded that she was selling some bracelets made by her mother the late Karen Moberg, an artist who used to live in Hawaii. BINGO KM Maui!
According to Katharine, her mother Karen loved creating three-dimensional works of art and was often featured in Art Maui. She once painted an underwater scene on their car. Working under the name Maui Vision, Karen began making cat cuff bracelets in her garage studio. Apparently, she had a lot of felines to inspire her, as she started out with four cats at her home in the country and somehow ended up with 30! Apparently, the cats simply gravitated to her, just appearing out of the blue.
Like artists Gottfried Mind (see Caticons pages 159 and 262) and Foujita (see Caticons pages 19, 26, 69, 135, 266, and 284), Karen was often found with a cat sitting on her shoulder. Her favorite cat Sam was a black Persian who would not let her out of his sight and even followed her into the shower. Perhaps he was the inspiration for my cuff bracelet, whose caption and story are now be complete. Like cats finding their way to the doorstep of cat lovers like Karen, information, too, shows up seemingly randomly in unexpected places. Yes, I bought all the bracelets.
Please see a photo of Karen below. Of course, Karen is the one with the cat.