Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Inland Octopus mural differs from downtown color palette

Photo Credit: Julia Bowman

If you’re walking down Main Street, you may notice that the predominant palette of Walla Walla’s buildings appears to be muted wine colors: that is, until you reach the storefront of the Inland Octopus toy shop.

A big, bright new mural covers the 650-square foot front of the building, depicting a whimsical scene of  a large purple octopus scaling a blue and green castle with a rainbow illuminating the background.

“It could have been brighter,” Bob Catsiff, the store owner, said with a smile. “I wanted the outside to show how cool the inside of the store is.”

Catsiff has been planning the mural ever since the store moved to its new location at 7 East Main at the end of March. The mural, a collaboration between Catsiff and local artist Aaron Randall, was completed on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and took 37 hours for Randall to paint while Catsiff mixed the colors.

“Most people who look at it smile, when they otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Catsiff.

The store’s location next to Bright’s Candies in the heart of downtown makes the mural a prominent focal point in the city.

But the bright colors may also pose a problem. The City of Walla Walla’s design standards discourage downtown buildings from being painted “bright, heavily saturated and/or reflective shades of red, blue, green, orange, yellow, or black.”

However, these recommendations are for building colors alone. According to Elio Agostini, executive director of the Walla Walla Downtown Foundation, there is no actual code in regard to murals. If the painting was to be declared a sign, however, it would be classified as too big.

“I’ve talked to building and business owners alike and found about a 70 to 30 percent split on the positive side regarding who likes the mural,” Agostini said. “The decision of the mural lies in the hands of the city, though.”

Many citizens, including the store’s target demographic: children: enjoy the mural, especially compared to the blank white wall that was there before.

Jim McGuinn of Hot Poop thinks that the mural is “a breath of fresh air.”

Rachel Kline, co-owner of the Walla Walla Bread Company, agrees.

“Bob did exactly the right thing,” she said. “The way it’s painted gives it depth. It couldn’t have been more tastefully done.”

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  • T

    TaraOct 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I cannot imagine what the city officials are thinking, in the current economic climate to hamstring a business owner in this manner. I remember the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation had the same kind of reaction to the Cayuse Vineyards Tasting Room when it opened (the really bright yellow building a few doors down from I.O.). Small town officials can be very small minded. Big fish in a little pond.

  • M

    Mike ConnerSep 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    That mural is God awful and so out of place Downtown. Get rid of the eyesore!

    • L

      LauraOct 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      How about we focus on cleaning up the eyesore that was once known as the Blue Mountain Mall? That disaster by far outweighs in importance in the image of the city.
      College Place gets the new Les Schwab, Panda Express, etc. which equals tax dollars for that city. Meanwhile we have a “city dump” where the mall was, yet we spend time arguing about a colorful octopus.

  • A

    AndrewSep 26, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    i think the idea of having a mural in that location is a great thing. i agree with Jim that it is a breath of fresh air. i do have one issue. due to the rise in “high class” businesses and the historical nature of the town, having a mural like the one there does slightly take away from the image the city wants to portray. maybe having the octopus climbing over local buildings would have been something i would have considered.

  • V

    VirginiaSep 23, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks for the great story – it’s a wonderful mural – whimsical & joyful. Hope Walla Walla city government lets it stay.