Animal Sculptures by Judy McKie and Jay Coogan Prove Patient, Purposeful and Playful

Judy McKie’s bronze cat benches and Jay Coogan’s aluminum dogs and cats were kept off location during extensive construction of Cambridge Public school and library properties where they had become favorite features. Soon after they returned last fall ready to resume their roles, the closing of all schools and libraries in March 2020 cut short the opportunities for children and adults to interact with them again. Though I had been able to admire and photograph these artful animals, I didn’t want to share the images until the sculptures could be part of daily life once more.

Gradually and with caution this summer, people have been able to revisit spaces enlivened by the animal sculptures. So now I’ll release what had been left on hold.

Silicon bronze benches, Alley Cats by Judy Kensley McKie:  Collaboratively designed in 2004 with Carol R. Johnson Associates for the Valente Reading Garden, the three Alley Cats were reinstalled to the renovated space in time for the Valente branch reopening November 2019. ( Cambridge Public Art Tour Cards: Respite)

For context within the range and distinctive qualities of this artist’s work, read this: “Judy Kensley McKie is recognized as a premier figure in the American studio furniture movement. Her furniture in carved and painted wood and in cast bronze, marble, stone, and resin occupies a singular position in the field. The work is infused with a lively awareness of modernist and contemporary art and also with the design aesthetic of indigenous cultures throughout the world. Playfulness and power are summoned by her incorporation of sculptural, totemic animal forms. (quote from Gallery Naga site with more than fifty images of her art)

Aluminum Dogs and Cats by Jay Coogan:  First created in 2005 for the Donnelly Field Tot Lot outside the Frisoli Youth Center (Willow Street) these sculptures returned after the nearby King Open School was completed. ( Cambridge Public Art Tour Cards: Inspect a Cantibridgian Creature) While the tot lot was closed this spring:

After the tot lot began to reopen this summer:

“Jay Coogan has extended the artwork he created in 1998 inside the Frisoli Youth Center (Stop-Action-Frieze) to reach into the adjacent playground…..Using the same aluminum cutout method as he did to create the figures inside the Center, Coogan has fabricated dogs and cats in gestures of play and interaction with those who might use the park.” ( quote from Cambridge Arts Council notice, 2005)

A Massachusetts native, Coogan has a broad academic and artistic experience as a maker. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts from Brown University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Hunter College. His art has been shown in numerous galleries and museums across the country. He has public commissions in the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Green Bay and Providence. As a faculty member at RISD, his teaching experience included classes in welding, casting, woodworking, and public art.”( from news about Jay Coogan in What’s Up Newport, July 31, 2018)

One comment

  1. These are wonderful! Thanks for posting.

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