Many schools seem to favor mascots associated with ferociousness – think lions – or patriotism and honor – think eagles and knights. Elysian Heights Elementary, however, has a cat. Room 8 Cat has been the school’s mascot ever since it roamed the classrooms and hallways for nearly 20 years before passing away in 1968. It would be hard for students to escape knowledge of Room 8 Cat because images of the kitty are found everywhere, from the cement on the sidewalk to books in the library and a large but faded mural facing Echo Park Avenue. Now, in the most recent tribute to Room 8, artist Yuriko Etue is painting a colorful new mural featuring the neighborhood’s most well known cat. “I’m a cat lady and I love the story,” said Etue, who owns a 16 1/2-year-old cat named Ohana.
Etu, who has painted murals at Allesandro, Clifford, Logan and other nearby schools, suggested working on the old Room 8 Cat mural, which has faded and is obscured by trees. But the former school principal didn’t want to tamper with the old mural. So, instead, Etu designed and created a mural for the west side of the school auditorium that faced Echo Park Avenue. Funded in part with city beautification grants, Etu has used house paint to create an approximately 12-foot high by 9-foot wide portrait of Room 8 framed by the artist’s trademark spirals and swirls that spill across the side of the building. Etu, who started work on the mural about a week before Thanksgiving, expects to finish the mural in a few days.
No dedication ceremony has been scheduled but you can expect that cats will be involved.