Those little waving kitties have become ubiquitous good luck trinkets in Seattle shops—but what exactly do their upraised paws tell us? With Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cats—From Talisman to pop icon, Bellevue Arts Museum provides both context and cuteness, exhibiting 155 vintage cats made from ceramic, papier-mâché, wood and stone, as well as several contemporary takes on the form (such as those by Seattle artists Diem Chau and Patti Warashina).
Thought to have emerged in the 1600s, the cats are attributed to various Japanese folk tales that tell of how a clever cat saved someone from danger (poverty, a trap, lightning strike or snake bite, etc.). Ever since, the cats have laid claim to counters, promising good fortune—or at least fewer snake bites.
2/22–8/4. Times and prices vary. Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE; 425.519.0770; bellevuearts.org