Catherine Coan. Image courtesy of the City of Santa Monica.

Catherine Coan has been many things in this life.

Perhaps best known for her taxidermy art pieces (seen locally at the Lois Lambert, haleARTS and CoPro Galleries), the artist, writer, hybrid taxidermist, professor, and reality TV judge has added another title to her resume: writer-in-residence at the Annenberg Community Beach House.

Coan has been at the Annenberg since late October working on poetry, some for an upcoming book. During her stay, she’s held two public events and has had an open-door policy with her office hours to share words of wisdom with interested public.

As her residency comes to a close, she’ll have only a couple more open office hours (Monday, Dec. 10 and Monday, Dec.17) culminating in one last final event to celebrate it all.

Coan took some time away from scribing stanzas to talk with the Daily Press about her time at the Annenberg.

You’re an artist, hybrid taxidermist, writer, professor, and reality TV judge (AMC’s ‘Immortalized’). What is it that attracts you to these disciplines and what allows you to excel at them?

I think it comes down to storytelling. My mom was an English teacher it all came naturally. (laughs) A lot of walking to parks, learning the names of things, and telling stories from those moments gave me storytelling experience from a young age.  Storytelling is a part of all these things.

What made you decide to take this residency?

I’m a notoriously slow writer and I’d been looking at finishing up a book of poems for about 15 years now. I felt this would help discipline me and help finish up that book.

And of course, the location. It’s such a beautiful place to write with the natural light and natural surroundings. And not just that, but the Beach House and all of its history is fantastic.

How have these office hours been for you? Have you become more disciplined in a more stringent, 9-5 type of environment?

It’s kicked me into gear to get the book finished completely on my own and I’m hoping to keep that up. (laughs)

Writers I know have a saying, “How many cups do you have left until you’re finished?” Well, I’ve gotten about two-thirds of the way done, so only a few cups left. I’ve gotten a lot of work done.

How have the visits been in your office?

There’s been a wide variety of people here.

Sometimes they come to see me, sometimes there are people that come by and they’re just like, “Oh, okay, there’s a writer in there.”

It’s cool because the docents here give cool tours and you get to hear different stories and see others enjoy those stories, too.

My favorite actor of all time is Charlie Chaplin and he spent a lot of time in this house with Marion Davies. It’s great thinking about them galavanting around and the crazy costume parties and sleepovers they had. A lot of creativity has existed in this property.

What can you say about your new collection of poems ur working on? What subjects, Any unifying themes?

The new book of poems is ‘Mistakes Have Been Made’.

I use a lot of things in these poems: pop culture, animals, a lot of images from childhood, and humor, too.  My work tends to veer to the humorous, with my taxidermy and fine art, and I find it a way to connect with someone immediately.  

But also, I should note, the book’s not as lighthearted as it sounds. (laughs) A lot of it explores depression and death.

I’m in my 40s now, and at this point of what we call middle age, I think I’m at a time in my life where I’m reflecting on how my life and art have gone and how I hope my those things will go.

A lot of looking back and looking forward.

What can people expect from your public event at the Annenberg?

When awarded with a residency, you’re required to do three events.

The first two events were more intellectual. I talked about the connections between taxidermy and writing and history. The second one I had cross-discipline people over and I moderated a conversation with them.

This one is more of a celebration of my time here and having some friends join in.

Bert Esenherz will be there, he’s is a really talented painter. Stephen Rowe will be there, too, and he’s is a great singer/songwriter. Bert will be live painting while Stephen plays music. They’re part of a group of artists I’ve been lucky to know for 10-15 years. They’re all working in a lot of disciplines.

The common spaces where they hold these in the Annenberg are so inviting. They’re open and inviting without feeling like you’re in an auditorium.

Just come by and be apart of the community.

Reading, Live Painting and Music with Catherine Coan and friends takes place Tuesday, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Admission is free with RSVP. RSVP at


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