LOLCat Artists Raise Money for Adult Literacy

"I Has It" by Isis A. Vera is an acrylic mixed-media painting that was on display at the "I Can Has Art Show?" silent auction benefit at the Coffee Bar in San Francisco on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. (JJ Duncan/ Zimbio.com)

People love lolcats. I don't think I've ever shown icanhascheezburger.com to anyone who hated the site.

The pictures are cute, the captions are funny and everything is ever-so-charmingly misspelled. Which makes it all the more appropriate that a recent lolcat-inspired event raised money in the name of adult literacy. There's something poetic about illiterate cats helping illiterate adults. Now only if we could teach those darn cats that nao is spelled n-o-w.

With the devotion people feel toward the lolcat Internet meme, it was no surprise to find so much enthusiasm at the lolarts show in San Francisco last night (Oct. 23, 2008).

Visitors to The Coffee Bar in the Mission district roamed the art exhibit with the same bemused expressions of my co-workers trolling icanhascheezburger. And the artists traveled from all over to take part in the silent-auction benefit.

Emily Cox (pictured at left with her piece "I Can Has Chainburger") is a 17-year-old senior at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana who traveled all the way to San Francisco with her parents to place her papier-mache kitty on the auction block.

Roughly a third of the show sold (not terribly surprising given the $100-$250 price range required for most opening bids), but Cox said she wasn't disappointed that her piece didn't get snatched up.

Event organizer, curator and artist Marianne Goldin says in the "Curatorial Statement" she wrote for the show's program that she started working with the idea of lolcats as art as a way to rediscover the fun side of art.

"I'm a huge fan of the absurdity of the Internet Meme. I discovered LOLcats in 2006 during a brainstorming session for The Cult of Youth Reader (a publication I edited). We were muddling over how youth create new ways of speaking, when Julia Gfroerer, an arts editor, mentioned wacky Internet cats funnier than they ought to be. She described the gestalt of LOLcats and how they had created a new form of linguistic humor."

Goldin's piece "Invisible Invisible" (pictured at right) plays on the series of "invisible (insert object here)" photos in lolcat land.

The show received a fair amount of publicity with a precede written up by Wired, a video crew on hand from Current (it doesn't look like they have the story up yet), and, of course, publicity from icanhascheezburger.com. Tickets for the show were snapped up only a few hours after they were made available, and the one-of-a-kind show was off and rolling.

Local San Francisco artist Doc Pop (pictured at left) describes himself as not being someone who is heavily into technology. He experiments with memes that sometimes combine ideas from the Internet with applications in the real world. One piece he had on display was a flyer for a lost LOLCAT that responds to "cheezburger" (see below).

The number given on Doc's flyer leads curious callers to an absolutely awesome original nerdcore hip-hop song about lolcats. Doc said he hopes the flyers spread out from their San Francisco roots to other cities. I'm doing my part by sending copies to a couple of friends back in my home state of Kansas.

Check out the rest of my pictures from the event below. (Sorry I didn't get pictures of everything and I know I missed a couple of good ones.)

"Neeyon Harblz" by Dino Ignacio

"Ur soulz... givez dem to me" by Amy Strunk

"Lost LOLCat" by Doc Pop

"Culur, Ur Doin it Wrong" by Gareth A. Hopkins


"Longcat and Tacgnol Redux" by Alise-Ann Glover

"I Does It" by Amanda Siska

"The Amazing Lolcat" by Nina Kempf (This piece was one of the largest at 3 feet by 5 feet, ready for your very own kitty sideshow)

"4:57 am Nightmare" by Heather Anderson (It says "oh hai..." in the upper left)

"LOLCat Whiteboard" by Josh Zubkoff (One of my favorites. I love interactive art, and I saw several people erasing and rewriting the bubble box)

"I Can Has Chainburger" by Emily Cox

"2001 - A LOLcats Odyssey" by Brian K. MacDonough

"I Has a Bucket" by Elija Evenson (It seems optimistic to me that the walrus is seen holding his beloved bucket instead of longingly searching for it or bemoaning its loss.)

"Invisible Invisible" by Marianne Goldin
I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google
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