Inland Octopus mural differs from downtown color palette

Molly Johanson

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.”