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At Crate Escape, Too, a Muralist Goes to the Dogs 

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Natalie Williams

A daycare center for dogs might not seem like an obvious location for artwork, but the Crate Escape, Too in South Burlington is upending expectations. Soon "Champlain Valley Pawnorama," by local muralist Tara Goreau, will greet canines and their humans along a 140-foot wall in the facility's playroom. It will open for public viewing this Saturday, June 28.

"It's a great wall, and there is so much room to paint in there," says Goreau. "I was surprised because at first I thought the main audience would be dogs, who are possibly colorblind. But after being there for a while, I noticed that [the mural] might just brighten the space."

The decision to add the artwork came about during a series of updates and renovations at the Crate Escape, Too. "I knew that there could be a lot of growth in this business — especially if you add ... beautification projects to a dog facility," explains facilities manager Colin Dunn. "You know, dogs don't want to look at cement. Dogs want to look at what we want to look at."

The mural actually spans five walls in the main playroom at the daycare and depicts four seasons of Vermont — somewhat like the mural Goreau painted earlier this year at the entrance of Burlington's City Market. In this one, of course, plenty of dogs roam the scene.

Goreau says this is the biggest mural she's ever created. It's painted on a series of 4-by-8-foot wooden boards so that, if the company ever changes locations, the owners can take the mural with them.

"Instead of just putting in drywall, [Dunn] installed panels that can be easily removed, just in case," she says. "It is a bit of an investment." Goreau was paid "around $4,000" for her work.

Although the two had only planned for the four-seasons mural, Goreau had some extra time and added a Burlington sunset. "I think my favorite part is the sunset scene and Burlington skyline," she says. "I usually don't do sunsets, and I was just kind of having fun."

Goreau normally uses house paint, but to make the work dog-friendly, she added "basically a floor varnish, just to protect it," she says.

Dunn, who is all too familiar with messes dogs can make, is pleased. "You can spray it with whatever you want; it's super durable," he notes.

Aesthetically, Dunn says he just thought that having some art on the walls would be a good idea — "first of all for the dogs, second of all for everyone that works here, and third, just to get everyone interested in the Crate Escape," he says. "It's a great way to show that we are involved in where we live."

Tara Goreau's mural will be revealed at an open house on Saturday, June 28, noon to 5 p.m. at the Crate Escape, Too, 5 Green Mountain Drive, in South Burlington.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Daycare With a View: A Muralist Goes to the Dog"
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