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Four cats are officially taking up residence on a brick wall this week in the vibrant arts district of Canton, Ohio. If you tweet and you’re a cat, you’re probably already familiar with Brewskie Butt, who is joined in the mural by his housemates Who, Slick and Noah, all of them rescues.

The creative power behind the mural is BZTAT, aka Vicki Boatright (right), a talented artist, cat lover and social media phenom. I interviewed Vicki to find out more about the mural project which is being dedicated this Friday in downtown Canton.

KAREN: Vicki, how did you get involved in this mural project?
BZTAT: I approached the building owner about the concept. As a great supporter of the arts and the owner of the adjacent Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography, he was enthusiastic about the project. He coordinated the funding through the Timothy S. Belden Charitable Fund and ArtsinStark, the County Arts Council, and we presented it to the city Architectural Review Board. After everything was approved, I created the artwork in the studio for it to be later attached to the building.

KAREN: What is the most difficult thing about painting a mural of this size?
BZTAT: I love painting big! There are challenges, however. I had to climb up and down a ladder and maneuver the boards around in a tight space, which wasn’t easy. On this piece, I also had straight lines that had to match up, which was a challenge. Painting the cats was the most fun part!

KAREN: How close is the final mural to what you envisioned when you started the project?
BZTAT: It is actually very close to the original design. There were a few minor adjustments, but not many. I actually was very surprised when I got it up there how well it worked – even better than I originally expected! The colors really contrast well with the brick wall background and it is highly visible from a distance. It really brightens the entire surrounding area.

KAREN: I know Brewskie is one of the cats depicted in the mural. Who are the other cats?
BZTAT: The cats are all my cats who reside with me in downtown Canton. They are authentic “Downtown Cats”! From right to left, they are Brewskie Butt, Who, Slick and Noah. They all have their own rescue stories. Click here for the story that Brew wrote about them all awhile back.

KAREN: How long did it take to complete the mural?
BZTAT: The design and concept was developed and approved last summer, but I actually began working on the project in January of this year. I worked on it amongst other projects, so it took approximately 7 months. It actually was probably a 3 month project, but it was stretched out in stages because the funding came in stages.

KAREN: Of all the cat paintings you’ve done, which is your favorite?
BZTAT: You really expect me to choose a favorite? Well, OK. My favorite is one that you do not see much online, because it is one that I have kept in my home. I painted it in 1987 of the greatest cat ever, the original Beezie-tat:


Feline Fantasy by BZTAT (1987)

You can read about her here.

Vicki will be at the dedication of mural on August 6th at 7:30 pm, at 201 5th St. NW, Canton, OH. Can’t make it this week? Drop by the BZTAT Studio (336 4th St. NW) during one of Canton’s First Friday Events.

Vickie will also be a speaker at the BarkWorld Expo on August 20-22 in Atlanta, GA. Her presentation will be about how she uses social media to connect with admirers and collectors of her pet-themed artwork worldwide. (Catsters, get 1/2-off using coupon code CATSTER when registering.)

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