The cat who has become an internet sensation for repeatedly sneaking into the Macalester College library will soon have a permanent presence in the building where he has become a legend.
A California artist with no connection to St. Paul’s School plans to create a large oil painting of Max, the playful orange tabby whose escapades in 2017 went viral and still garner a cult online.
“He clearly has the power to stay,” said library director Angi Faiks. “It’s an unexpected surprise. The connection Max has created between all kinds of people across the world is inspiring. It is a charming and warm gesture.
Sculptor and art teacher Liesa Lietzke heard about Max via the cat’s Instagram account, where posts chronicled the curious kitten’s escapades, including hanging out on the patio of the nearby French Meadow Bakery and making their way through the rooms. Macalester’s classroom, the dorms and even the president’s office.
But Max gained most notoriety when he rushed into the library and security cameras captured him wandering through the piles. His numerous visits led library workers to display a now famous sign that read “Please don’t let the cat in”.
But the sign generated support for Max as well as notoriety, as publications such as the Star Tribune, the Washington Post and media around the world told his story.
“I was amused by everything,” said Lietzke, a cat-loving artist who works in painting, sculpture and mixed media and who has taught at several institutions in her native California. “I thought his image should be there for posterity. It seemed like it would be satisfying – for a lot of people – to be able to say, “Max is finally getting to the library. “
Lietzke contacted Max’s owners, Greg and Connie Lipton, and made some Max clay figures for them. She offered a sculpture of Max, but when COVID-19 hit she couldn’t enter her studio and instead opted for an oil painting.
Max has not been seen on the leafy Macalester-Groveland campus of St. Paul’s for over two years. He moved with his owners to North Carolina when Greg, then a professor of religious studies at Macalester, accepted a job at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina.
But many are still asking questions about Max, said Connie Lipton, who noted that her social tabby had not been in a bookstore or library since the move.
“People on his Instagram account want to know if they can meet him when they come to campus,” said Connie Lipton.
Lietzke, who teaches at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif., Said she plans to start drawing the board this fall and hopes to finish it by the end of winter vacation. Then she plans to raise enough money to ship it ready to hang, without having to remove the canvas from its frames.
Connie Lipton said she was touched by Lietzke’s offer to add another chapter to Max’s wealthy life.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “With COVID and all the madness, it always makes people smile. Max is gone [from Macalester] but it is not forgotten. He always makes people happy.