Lilly the Cat
By Gen Obata
[Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge them.]
|Lilly the Cat – The Official Story
|In 1999, a meteor lands near the Climatron in the Missouri
Botanical Garden. Small, plantlike aliens, here to investigate the earth
for possible use as a sports park, spend their days hiding in the Shoenberg
Temperate House disguised as trumpet plants. (It turns out that the flies here are rather tasty.)
|The aliens begin experimenting with insects and stray cats to create giant
creatures to help them to investigate the city. They start by cloning some
honeybees that fly around the Botanical Garden scaring
visitors until they are eaten by the many giant carp in the Japanese
Garden. A few bees are captured and turned into an exhibit.
|The aliens' next experiment is to clone a stray cat they
call Lilly. She is first seen playing around the Botanical Garden, a mere
10 feet tall. But she keeps growing. Visitors worry she is too heavy to be
climbing on the Climatron. Here she is seen at the entrance to the Chinese
|Lilly keeps growing and it becomes too difficult to make Lilly stay at the
Botanical Garden (she is a cat, you know). Soon she is roaming around the
city, checking out various parks where she can spend her time playing and
sleeping. Here she checks out the fountain by the World's Fair Pavilion.
|When she's resting, most people don't even notice her. She becomes part of
the building or landscape on which she's lying. Here Lilly mimics a giant
gargoyle as she reclines on the Missouri History Museum.
|But sometimes she causes traffic problems when she plays in the street.
Here she is seen in the Delmar Loop playing with the Lion Gates. Traffic did
get backed up, but nobody was injured.
|Then there was the time she was playing a little too aggressively with the
statue of St. Louis by the Art Museum ... and lost her balance.
|The worst incident occurred when she interrupted a Cardinal baseball game by
lying in the middle of the field and refusing to move until a truckload of
cat treats was brought in.
|Unfortunately, Lilly grew so large that her playing eventually damaged some
buildings downtown and threatened to destroy the Gateway Arch.
|Luckily, the aliens finally figured out how to reduce Lilly's size to a more
manageable 15 feet tall. She now lives on top of the City Museum where people
passing by are heard to say, "That's just another one of Bob Cassilly's
Lilly the Cat The Unofficial Story
In 1999, we found Lilly at the Humane Society, fell in love
with her and immediately adopted her. Lilly is an incredibly expressive cat
and is constantly posing for photographs.
During the summer of 2001, while our kids were at camp, my wife suggested I
send them a photograph of Lilly. I decided that no simple photograph would
do, so I created the image of Lilly grabbing the Gateway Arch.
I've never had so many comments on an image as I received on that
Before the summer, I had taken a lot of photographs for the book Architecture for Kids, written by Lee Ann Sandweiss and illustrated
by Phyllis Harris. That experience had sent me all over the city looking at
places that would be interesting for kids. So I looked over my images of
St. Louis and began finding places for Lilly to visit, too.
Since working on the Lilly in St. Louis series, I have included her, after
the fact, on all of our family trips. Now Lilly has been to Kansas City,
San Francisco, New York and a few other places. Here's Lilly sitting on top
of a cable car in San Francisco.
Gen Obata is a St. Louis native who resides near Forest Park with his two
cats, Lilly and Rodney, and wife Rebecca, a civil rights attorney, and their
two daughters. Besides taking photographs, Gen writes songs and plays in two
local bands, Seldom Home and Raven Moon. Check out his web site at
www.genobata.com. The Lilly images are in the Notecards section. By the
way, St. Louis artist Kathleen Weltzen created the bees shown above.
Images Copyright © 2001 - 2003 Gen Obata
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