The cat that gained notoriety and captured the hearts of many for repeatedly sneaking into the Macalester College library has once again found his way into the building.
A California artist created a large oil portrait in the likeness of Max, the mischievous orange tabby whose adventures went viral in 2017, and on Wednesday had it delivered to the liberal arts college in St. Paul's Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.
"It's beautiful, quite beautiful," said Library Director Angi Faiks. "He's a handsome fella."
Library staff will get the 3-foot by 2-foot painting framed, then hang it in a prominent place to allow students and staff to pose for selfies with Max. And the print will likely provide lighthearted fodder for tour guides showing off the campus to prospective students, she said.
"With students coming back this fall, some will get to meet Max for the first time," Faiks said. "It's going to be fun."
Max no longer roams the campus on Grand Avenue. His owners, Greg and Connie Lipton, took the kitty with them three years ago when they moved to North Carolina. Greg Lipton had been a religious studies professor at Macalester but left to take a job at High Point University.
With the print's arrival, Max's impact on the Macalester campus will live on, Faiks said. And so will the stories of the very social kitty hanging out on the patio at nearby French Meadow Bakery and finding his way into Macalester's classroom buildings, dorms and even the president's office.
"He was such an inspiration to them," Connie Lipton said in an e-mail, in which she noted that Max "is doing great, exploring his new neighborhood and living the cat life."
Max gained the most fame, however, when he darted into the Macalester library and security cameras captured him roaming the stacks. His numerous visits led library workers to post a now-famous sign that read, "Please do not let in the cat." Images of the sign spread across social media.
Liesa Lietzke, sculptor and art professor, learned about Max though the cat's Instagram account. Lietzke, who teaches at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif., but has no ties to Macalester, is a cat-loving artist and said she was amused by it all. She decided to create the painting and send it to Macalester.
"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 finally gets to be in the library,' " Lietzke previously told the Star Tribune.
She took nearly nine months — some of that due to COVID-19 restrictions that didn't allow her access to her studio — to complete the print.
"Max is on his way to Macalester," she said in an e-mail Sunday.
Lietzke also is selling images of the print online at Redbubble.com. Proceeds will go to libraries and literacy programs yet to be determined, Lipton said.
Faiks said a thank-you card is now on its way from St. Paul to Lietzke.
"We still need stuff to laugh about and bring joy," Faiks said. "This is inspiring, and appreciate that this touched a lot of people. This brought random people together."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768