Pete the Cat

May 19, 2007

When we were at the French Quarter Festival a few weekends ago, we went into a couple of those galleries on Royal St. In one, we happened to meet an artist who had a lot of cool little paintings of a cartoonish dark blue cat. There were some pictures of the little cat (Pete, his name turns out to be) doing cat-like things, but there were also some of the cat in places of local interest. For example, there's one of the cat sitting on the statue in Jackson Square.

There are also some where the cat is added in take-offs of more famous art. There's the cat stretching his paw to meet God's hand on his take of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. There's MC Escher drawing himself in the reflective ball with Pete on a chair in the background.

My old gray friend Oscar did this to our armior many years ago (when it was new).

I'm writing this post while without internet access (odd, I know), and I don't remember the guy's name. But he was a super-nice guy, and interesting to boot. He looks the part of "hippie who never left the 70s," but he's actually a retired electrical engineer. Educated at Auburn, so probably not a very good electrical engineer (I'm an EE grad from LSU, you know), but one of us nevertheless.

His web site

has some of the good ones, but the pictures posted there aren't comprehensive. We bought the three prints that I have posted here to put up in Ivan's room. I know that the one titled "miscalculation" wasn't on his web site, and I think it's my favorite of all. What cat's human hasn't had a similar scene?

(Ahh, there's the guy's name, right there on the image. I could correct the paragraph above, but I kind of like how it reads.)

Another one that I liked was pictured with an article that he had printed copies of from an Alabama magazine. It had the cat on top of Bear Bryant's houndstooth hat, on his head, on the sideline of a football game.

Pete the Cat rides a streetcar (through the countryside, it appears).

If the perspective of the photographs of the prints looks a bit off, it's because they're hung on slanted walls. In the upstairs of our house, the walls rise straight up to about waist height, and then they slope up and in to follow the roof line the rest of the way up. If you have trouble picturing this, think of trying to hang pictures on the sloped wall in your attic.

The first problem you will find is that the weight of the picture pulls picture hangers right out of the sheet rock. Normal picture hangers are no good at all.

They make a different kind of hanger that has a plastic hook attached to a sheet rock anchor. The anchor screws into the sheet rock, leaving you a huge and ugly hole if you miscalculate, but giving you a firm hold. So that solves the first problem.

The second problem that you encounter is that the picture wants to dangle downward. I tried moving the wire up, thinking that the top wouldn't have room to swing up, and the stiffness of the picture would keep it from dangling down. No dice.

I tried the middle of the picture, thinking that if balanced better, I wouldn't have this problem. Again, that failed to solve me problem.

The problem with these is that it's impossible to pull the wire on the back of the picture tight enough. You start to pull the eye rings out of the frame before you get it tight enough to stay taught. Even if you bonded the eye rings so that they magically weren't a problem, arm strength alone doesn't take out enough slack to keep the wire taut.

Pete drives a Beatle, like Mrs. theskinnyonbenny used to.

I was about ready to surrender. I had started thinking of building brackets out of wood or molding, attached to the wall in a way where I could slide the picture down into the bracket. The bracket would hold the bottom and sides of the picture firmly.

But Mrs. theskinnyonbenny had me try one more approach before giving in, and it proved to be the winner. We put two wires across the back of each picture -- one high, and one low. Then, we put four brackets -- one near the frame's edge for each of the sides and for each of the two wires. Then, we hung the picture carefully so that all four hangers have hold of a little piece of wire.

Obviously, the problem here is the little room for error. If we put up our four hangers and they weren't spaced right, or if we didn't have them square, we had to move them around. We had the potential for putting a whole lot of big ugly holes in the wall.

Somehow, we did pretty good. I'll go ahead and say Ivan's bedroom suite is the nicest room in the house. But I'm sure we'll lose that opinion once he gets everything covered in crayon, stickers, jelly, and dried up play-dough.