A couple of months ago, I was driving down Taylor Street and saw TaikoCat (that I painted in 2012) on a truck. It turns out that a car was t-boned and it came up onto the curb, knocking the box over! Luckily the people were ok, but the box didn't make it.
At first I felt really sad, but I said good-bye and went on my way. People suggested that I go down to the city offices and demand to get TaikoCat so I could keep her. I didn't do this. I knew that the artwork on these boxes were impermanent - they were subject to the elements, taggers and I guess cars.
I was grateful that she stayed up on that corner for 4 years, welcoming people to Japantown. And that people all over have asked for TaikoCat t-shirts, spreading her happiness. It's been an amazing few years.
The Japantown Business Association and Artbox Project SJ moved quickly, however, and asked me to bring TaikoCat back! TaikoCat has 9 lives!
TaikoCat has some new friends now. TaikoBunny and TaikoPuppy. (Or TaikoDog? The name hasn't stuck yet.) And her surroundings have changed quite a bit from when she was standing outside an open lot.
All day long when my assistant Syl and I were painting, people would stop and say "Thank you for beautifying our neighborhood!" Or, "So cute!" I am so happy that it makes people smile.
This one makes me giggle: TaikoBunny wearing a TaikoCat t-shirt. She's a baby so not quite big enough to hold bachi.
If you want to keep reading, here's a little bit more. TaikoCat was inspired by "maneki neko" which means "beckoning cat." It has an upright paw which looks like it's waving, but in Japanese culture this is the gesture used to say "come here" (they don't use the index finger like we do here). So maneki neko brings good luck to its owner. TaikoCat belongs to the community, so hopefully she brings good luck to everyone.