By Lizbeth Jones
Although several artists have contributed color to the water tower at the Deerpath trailhead, we tracked down one whose work has stood the test of time. In 2010, Kato D. was visiting her sister, who lives near the 445-acre Gazzam Lake Park. While walking her dog, she noticed some offensive graffiti tagged on the cement water towers. She was inspired to cover up the worst of it with a hard-to-miss, inarguably artistic standout: a giant, smiling panda.
Her idea was part of a worldwide, collaborative online game called Pass the Picture, where artists exchange inspirations, each adding something in turn to the works. Another artist, Chris, had posted a photo of a man in a panda suit in a London tube station. He and Kato exchanged additions that eventually resulted in the mural. A year after painting the panda, Kato met Chris in person for the first time. And a year after that, they were married!
In its hand, the panda (which Kato claims is her) is holding Bugdozer (who she says represents Chris), a critter from Richard Scarry’s books that also was Chris’ online avatar. The Chinese calligraphy to the left loosely translates to, “Now with the insect machine—goodness.” Putting the piece together was not without obstacles. Kato was sometimes painting in the rain and finished it just hours before her flight from Seattle was scheduled to depart. Encouragement came from a passerby on horseback cheering her on, and then (a synchronistic shot in the arm) from a walker with a pooch named Panda in tow. “I persevered because I really wanted to give this to Bainbridge,” she said.