AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — This mural of Winnie the Pooh and his buddy Eeyore popped up in north Austin last week – but there is more to it than meets the eye.
Painted by artist Nathan Mellott on the side of the China Family Restaurant at Highland, there is no question it’s a cute addition to the city’s mural scene.
After all, the Chinese writing sprayed by Pooh on the wall reads “I love you so much,” a nod to the famous mural on South Congress Avenue, and it also features the same green and red color scheme.
But there is also a deeper meaning to the new mural outside the China Family Restaurant at Highland restaurant.
The artist is taking a subtle jab against China and its president Xi Jinping.
Mellott told KXAN that the mural is mostly about love, but said he “took the opportunity to reference a few things.”
“It’s an ode to the Jo’s Coffee mural on South Congress,” he said. “It’s also a little bit about my opportunity to allow art and free speech to mingle.”
Censors in China banned Winnie the Pooh last year because critics of the government kept using the colorful character to mock President Xi.
Sonny Wo, who owns the restaurant on Airport Boulevard, gave Mellott freedom to create what he wanted, as long as the theme was love.
Mellott described the mural as “tongue-in-cheek,” but added: “I think as playful and quasi-political as the image is, it’s absolutely in line with the message that he set me forward with.”
The pair had previously worked together with Mellott responsible for other murals and artwork inside the restaurant.
“I just think the message it delivered is beautiful, it’s about peace and love,” Wo added.
“I love to have peace everywhere – in China, in America, no conflicts, no war, no fighting.”