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Illustrator Cynthia von Buhler's window displays

An artist brings her latest feline-centric story to life at Chelsea's Books of Wonder.

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

  • Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder

Cynthia von Buhler's window displays at Books of Wonder



Called "one of the top contemporary surrealists" by Art & Antiques magazine, Cynthia von Buhler boasts a rsum that includes painting, sculpture, performance and video projection, for which she uses materials and media such as living fauna, collage, and electronic audio. Her art has been published everywhere from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone, but she’s also become renowned for her children’s books.

After working on titles for other authors, beginning with 1998’s Little Girl in a Red Dress with Cat and Dog, Von Buhler—who lives in a castle-like home on Staten Island—has gone on to write and illustrate her own stories. The first, The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), was based on the artist’s encounter with a stray; she created the scenes by photographing dioramas in her childhood dollhouse.

For her next book, But Who Will Bell the Cats? (Houghton Mifflin, 2009), a riff on Aesop’s fable, Von Buhler acted as set builder, painter, sculptor, gardener, plumber and mason. An elaborate concoction of sumptuous interiors photographed in a model castle, the book is impressive in every detail, from the chateau’s real stone walls to the floors she crafted from inlaid wood, mother-of-pearl and plaster.

City kids can visit the world of Bell the Cats this summer, when Von Buhler re-creates the story in Books of Wonder’s storefront, using sets that appear in the book. Life-size animated characters from the tale, among them a kitty maid in Alice in Wonderland garb, will play with the paper dolls and furniture—like children decorating a dollhouse. (Check back on July 2 for our slide show!)

Children inspired by the windows (and we’re thinking that will be most of them) may attend one of the three diorama workshops the artist is leading at the Chelsea book nook (Sun Jul 25-Mon Jul 26 noon--2pm; Tue Jul 27 6--8pm. Space is limited; RSVP in advance to hannah@drawbridge.com. Workshop is free with the purchase of one of Von Buhler’s books). Youngsters can construct a scene using preprinted images of wallpaper, rugs, fireplaces, paintings, tapestries and the book’s characters; they just need to bring along a shoebox and an adult to help them out. Von Buhler will bell all participating kids with a ribbon around their necks to wear home—something we wish we’d thought of a long time ago.

The rest of us can consider the display a summertime version of NYC’s opulent holiday windows—and there’s no reason such a glorious tradition should be confined to the winter.

Books of Wonder, 18 W 18 St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-989-3270, booksofwonder.com). Display will be on view Jul 2--Aug 30.




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