A side of hash browns and an art exhibit. Midtown offers artists unusual spaces.

Julie Tenenbaum checks the placement of her show featuring embroidered images of Benny the Cat at Simply Breakfast in Westport. Tenenbaum is one of many artists who show their work at numerous small, rotating venues throughout Midtown. Benny will move from the breakfast joint to City Hall in August.

Midtown has its Nelson Atkins and its Art Institute, but the area also has dozens and dozens of other smaller, more personal venues for small art installations. There are libraries, churches and coffee shops where shows rotate in and out, always offering patrons something new – and offering budding artists new places to connect with an audience.

That’s how Julie Tenenbaum’s Benny the Cat Show came to be hanging on the bright yellow walls of Simply Breakfast in Westport recently. She started embroidering a series of cat faces, and she and her friends really enjoyed what she created. A friend suggested Tenenbaum show her work, and after some initial hesitation, she approached the Johnson County Library to see if they would be interested in a show. Since October of 2011, Benny has hung on walls across the metro area, including the Westport Coffeehouse, Starbucks on 39th Street and LatteLand on the Plaza. Shows are planned for One More Cup, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church and Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Tenenbaum hopes someday to make a few dollars from her art work, but in the meantime, she prefers to have Benny “out in the world.”

“I want people to get a lift when they see him,” she says. The coffee shops, breakfast nooks and churches of Midtown are a perfect place for Benny to circulate.

As of August 3rd, the Benny show will be hanging in the City Clerk’s office in downtown Kansas City.

To see all the Bennies and Tenenbaum’s other works, visit her website, CatStitchStudio.com.

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