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Chaos in Wynwood

Nice kitty

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Alan Rigerman and his "pets" were the stars of last weekend's Gallery Walk.

There was lots of cool, slick, poppy art -- most notably, a portrait of the creature from the Black Lagoon done up like a sixteenth century Italian land-owner. Lots of coked-up kids in too-hot dinner jackets drinking free mojitos and pissy Italian beer. People talked about their shows and their shoes but, thanks to Rigerman, there was also strange talk of wild animals.

Deep within the industrial bowels of Wynwood, a small gallery called Smoke had permitted the 64-year-old substitute teacher and his 20 year old friend and house man, Anthony Zitnik, to display a 200 pound cougar named Chaos. Stocky dudes and pretty young girls cradled hissing hedgehogs, oggled a meandering porcupine, and prodded hefty tortoises while Zitnik kept one foot on the chain leash of the huge cat. There was no barrier between him and passing gallery walkers.

Rigerman held court over his long table of plastic containers from a rolling office chair, basking in attention. What was he doing there? How did he get all of these animals?

A few asked, but most would just continue to wonder. In the days following the art walk, people didn't talk much about the slick new art. The town's ironic, neon-colored machinations took a back seat, in the popular memory, to the odd man and his cat.

Who, in god's name was he? Find out in this week's feature story, "Cat People." --Calvin Godrey

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