Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Becoming An Artist One Stitch At A Time

Kansas City native, self-professed cat lover and Midtown resident Julie Tenenbaum has never seen herself as an artist, but over the past year, that is exactly how others have begun to view her. 

Julie is the creator of  “Benny Cat,” a wonderful, whimsical, embroidered cat who seems to be popping up on coffee shop walls and in venues all over town.

The Benny Cat Inspiration
Benny was “born” a few years ago when Julie was learning to embroider.  She was wondering about what to make and remembered a pottery piece with an adorable cat face she had seen at Urban Mining Homewares.  She pulled out a simple drawing she had made of the cat, put her hands and creative spirit in gear, and before she realized it, Benny had entered the world. 

Since then, Benny has blossomed and developed a unique feline personality all his own.  According to Julie, “Benny is intelligent, fearless and full of adventure.  He will go places no other cats would dare to go.”

Baker Benny
Benny is also quite a chameleon in his appearance.  Sometimes he is purple or pink.  At times he has stripes, and he may or may not have whiskers.  “You never know with Benny,” says Julie.

Benny’s environment often changes as well.  He may pop up in a trash can, in a bowling alley, in the rain, in a chair reading a book or just about anywhere else you could imagine.  He’s a very mobile and versatile cat.

The whole “Benny movement” has been quite surprising for Julie who, when she isn’t creating new artwork, owns and runs a secretarial service, is a yoga enthusiast who taught the exercise technique to beginners for 12 years and holds a B.A. in psychology from Washington University. 

To satisfy her creative streak, Julie has always enjoyed sewing and has gone through phases of knitting, crocheting, drawing and painting small wooden objects and Altoid® boxes.    

Something about embroidering and Benny Cat, however, grabbed Julie’s inner artist, and she has never looked back.  From a beginning sketch to matting and framing, Julie enjoys the entire creative process, even when tackling large, detailed pieces, which can take up to two months to complete.

Benny In The Bathroom
Julie and Benny’s first public show was in November 2011 at the St. James Lutheran Church in North Kansas City.  Since then Benny has found a permanent display home at The Rainbow Pet Hospital and can also be seen this month at One More Cup, a coffee house in Waldo. 

So what’s next for Julie and Benny?  Julie is busy checking into licensing and merchandising Benny along with expanding her artistic side while Benny is busy exploring life and making people smile.   Together, they want to see as much of the world and meet as many nice folks as possible.

If you would like to learn more about Julie, Benny pieces for sale and other additional information, visit Julie’s website at 

In the near future, there will also be a “Benny Cat at CatStitch Studio” page on Facebook where you will be able to “like” Benny.

Benny and the Buddha


  1. Amy, thank you for the wonderful article! You really "got" Benny and me. Now that Benny has a FB page (as of last night: Benny Cat at CatStitch Studio), I will share this with people who are following him. So cool!

  2. Great article, Amy, and good job, Julie! Benny is so adorable. I like it when you said, "Benny is busy exploring life and making people smile." because he really made me smile...