A giant rat storms the city and demands attention.
Down an alley in the unassuming neighborhood of Adams Morgan in D.C., a giant rat stalks day and night, towering over buildings and breathing fire into the cool January air. No, it's not related to the giant rat found in Mexico City last September. And, although D.C. has been fiercely battling their rat population for the last few years, this one's not actually alive.
This giant rat has been dubbed "Ratzilla" and is the latest street art sensation by artist Juan Pineda, commissioned by Suzanne Allen, and it can be found on her very own garage door. The two met some years back when Pineda was restoring a mural in the same neighborhood. Pineda, a Maryland-based painter, has artwork that can be found all over D.C. and the surrounding areas. Allan is an urban planner and federal employee, she told the DCist that she enjoys “creating interesting pockets in unexpected places,” and is no stranger to using her home for art with not-so-subtle political messages.
For the last four years, she had two different messages spray-painted on the roof of her house but felt it was time to shift gears and display something that could be better seen by the public. Rats, a common problem in any major city, have been a huge topic for D.C. in particular over the last few years. More recently, with restaurant closures during the pandemic driving city rats into people's homes, the issue has only been magnified. Another hot topic for D.C. residents, of course, is the debate on whether or not the District should attain statehood. These two heated topics came together in what Allan hopes is "something that would have some staying power" in the public's mind.
As to be expected, the responses on both Twitter and Instagram have been mixed. Setting aside the debate concerning statehood, some people just don't like rats—even if they are cartoony and meant to "put a little smile on our faces" as Pidena intended. Regardless, "Ratzilla" won't be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Allan stated that she would like more murals in the alleyway and plans to reach out and coordinate with neighbors to possibly bring an "outdoor alley gallery" to the neighborhood.
What do you think about "Ratzilla" or rats for that matter? What's your favorite city street mural in either D.C. or elsewhere? Let us know in the comments.