Anne Banas' "Cat House"
The Cat House Jacksonville mural is perhaps the best-loved of all Jacksonville landmarks. Every day, tens of thousands enjoy seeing this amazing 3-dimensional illusion as they exit the Main Street (John T. Alsop) Bridge. The mural is painted upon the high arched window spaces of the long-abandoned Bostwick building, former home to Guaranty Trust (on the corner of Ocean Street (US 17) and Bay Street).When the Jaguars became Jacksonville's NFL team, Anne and local artist Jim Draper were asked to dress up the old, boarded up building with a colorful Jaguars design. The resulting intriguing design, of two cats pacing "inside" and looking at passersby, was quickly embraced and nicknamed "Cat House Jacksonville" or simply the Cat House.
After being approved by the Downtown Enhancement Committee in the summer of 1995, First Union bank agreed to fund the project. The team began a whirlwind three-week production so the mural could be completed before the Jaguars' first home game (not to mention the rapidly approaching start of a new school year, since both Anne and Jim also taught full time!). Jacksonville began taking ownership of the "Cat House" even before the work was finished, as local articles about the Cat House Jacksonville mural raised interest in this major project.
"We never saw the finished image until it was installed, except in our artist proofs."
Anne and Jim had to pull off some amazing engineering to complete the project. The individual 25-foot windows had as much as five feet of brick wall between them, both on their sides and between the bottom and top sections. Each of 24 individual section of plywood had to be primed, gridded, and painted -- all in a studio across town! Finally, in order to create the 3-D effect the Jacksonville Cat House is famous for, the diagonal lines of the floor tiles in the image had to appear to recede (and line up with each other) "behind" the brick between the images.
Amazingly, even with up to five feet between each panel, the final "jigsaw pieces" all matched up perfectly! The project was completed in record time. The city painted "pawprints" starting at the Jacksonville Cat House heading east along Bay Street to the new Alltel Stadium, leading tens of thousands of fans from this landmark to watch the Jaguars play their first game!
The city immediately took the Cat House Jacksonville mural to heart. Copywriting and marketing referenced it regularly, as did news and sportscasters, and it quickly became an easily identifiable landmark and point of interest for visitors and Jaguar fans. Even 14 years later, every game day will find 70,000 plus fans following the pawprints from Jacksonville's real "Cat House" to the Jaguar's own cat house, Jacksonville's Municipal Stadium.
about the Jaguars "First Team" Mural
without express written permission of the artist.