Behind the Scenes: Meet D’Art, the Dublin Arts Council’s latest (c)attraction

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From the June 27, 2013 edition

Shop dogs are all the rage right now, but ever heard of a feline living in an art gallery?

OK, technically, D’Art, the 18-pound orange tabby that lives at the Dublin Arts Council’s castle-of-a-building, isn’t allowed in the gallery when its current exhibit of glass works is on view, but the cat has definitely become part of the staff.

“He’s really spoiled. He controls the office. It’s ridiculous,” laughed the DAC’s executive director David Guion. “It’s been so interesting to see how much people embrace him.”

D’Art is like a furry little docent. Guests frequently ask to see him, and the arts organization has started writing blog posts on its website as D’Art after he received so much attention on its social media accounts.

It’s important how much the small staff has embraced the cat, too. D’Art came to the gallery in 2010 from a Pennsylvania farm. A staffer’s friend had an excess of kitties that needed good homes. D’Art’s stay was to be temporary, but his easygoing, charmingly sassy self kneaded and purred its way into the staff’s hearts.

He now knows how to convince the DAC program manager to give him a glass of filtered water. D’Art has also trained them that, while unleashing his wicked howl-meow, he likes to be cradled backside down like a baby. When he occasionally escapes through the balcony on the second floor to the first floor’s roof-like awning and can’t shimmy back through the balcony slats (he is 18 pounds), staff members will risk climbing on the roof to rescue him.

Initially D’Art was just supposed to be an office cat, confined to meeting rooms in the building during office hours, but artists setting up exhibitions in the space started to ask if he was allowed to hang out with them during installations.

“The artists love him,” Guion said. “I think he helps calm them down.”

Unless the meeting room door is closed, D’Art attends every meeting in the building, whether it’s for a planning session with donors or a Weight Watchers gathering.

“He’s a good greeter,” Guion said. “He’s become a really important part of our staff. We call D’Art our mascot.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston