Off the wall

New mural brightens building, helps support mission of EGAPL Heart of RI Animal Rescue League

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Bob Ratigan, a professional artist and muralist, has completed a broad range of projects during his career.

His latest endeavor, at the EGAPL Heart of RI Animal Rescue League’s building at 44 Worthington Road in Cranston, may be the most fun one yet.

“I do murals. High-end, elaborate, detailed, restaurants, kids’ rooms – you name it, I paint it,” he said. “Some are elegant. Some are like this one, just silly.”

Ratigan, whose art already graces several parts of the facility, recently undertook a new mission – creating an enormous “paint-by-numbers” mural on the building’s roughly 100-foot north exterior wall.

Late last week, the mural had grown to encompass the majority of the wall. The scenes it depicts, as Ratigan hinted, are whimsical, created with some input but largely the product of his own imagination.

In one, a rock band comprised of cartoon dogs plays to a crowd of dancing canine onlookers. In another, dogs and cats play in the street, sit on chairs or lean out of windows in a neighborhood scene.

“I like the poodle over here, and these guys chilling out having coffee,” Ratigan said while looking over his work. As he worked his way from right to left, he considered adopting a space theme for the final pieces of the mural.

Tammy Flanagan, president and dog adoption chair for the rescue league, said the project was envisioned as a fun way to bring members of the community together and allow people to leave a lasting mark on the facility while raising funds to support the organization’s work.

“What better way to get a wall painted?” she added with a smile.

Enlisting Ratigan was a natural fit, given his background and prior work for the league. Flanagan noted that the artist has incorporated images of past and present pets, as well as animals that have come through the shelter and “left a little bit of a mark on us,” in both the new mural and his previous painting at the location.

The “paint-by-numbers” approach to the mural, Flanagan said, was meant to keep the building’s colorful new adornment “cohesive.” Portions of the mural have been sold to members of the community, and painting began on Sept. 14. Additional painting is planned for Sept. 21, starting at around 10 a.m.

The opportunity to make a creative contribution to the building is going beyond the mural as well.

Flanagan and Karen Kalunian, who does fundraising, social media and publicity for the league, said the south exterior wall is also open for painting, and members of the community are encouraged to reach out with creative ideas. They said wall space is available at various prices.

“If there is anyone who does have great artistic talent, we’ll give them a section that they can do their own thing. We have a whole other wall that needs to be done,” Flanagan said. She noted that a portion of the wall may also be reserved for hand and paw prints as a low-cost, easy way for people to participate.

“It’s a family-friendly event. We want kids to be involved,” Kalunian said. “I think it’s just really cool. I don’t know anyone who’s done a paint-by-numbers that big. I keep saying it’s the biggest one in Rhode Island.”

Ratigan, for his part, said he would provide some guidance to youthful participants on things like color choice and shading. For the most part, though, he hopes to “try to leave the creativity open as much as possible.”

“It’s going to be interesting, because I don’t believe I’ve ever done this, where they color it in … It’s fun no matter what. You can’t go wrong with colors,” he said.

To learn more about Ratigan and Ratigan Art Studio in East Greenwich, visit ratiganstudio.com.

To reserve a piece of the building’s wall or for more information, call 467-3670, visit heartofri.org or email egaplevents@gmail.com.

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