- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2004

D.C. officials wanted panda statues to welcome the tourists flocking to the nation’s capital. Artist Francisco Quintanilla gave them “Booted,” a painted plastic panda, covered head to foot with fake D.C. parking tickets.

Around one pink foot: a make-believe wheel boot.

“I wanted to design something that resonated with the citizens of [the District],” Mr. Quintanilla, 43, said. “I wanted to make it iconic but humorous. [Problems with parking] seems to be a popular sentiment throughout the city.”

Mr. Quintanilla’s bear creation is part of PandaMania, a District-sponsored program that will install 150 decorated panda statues on sidewalks citywide this month.

Mr. Quintanilla, a communications consultant from Northwest, said he wanted to “capture the dismay of when you come out to your car and see that pink slip on your windshield or that orange boot on your car and say ‘not another one.’”

Mr. Quintanilla, who doesn’t drive, said he had no shortage of inspiration for the piece. Seemingly everyone had a story to tell, he said.

“One lady told me she had accumulated so many that the total amount was more than the car was worth. The car was ‘totaled by tickets.’ ”

Mr. Quintanilla worked about 40 hours over three weeks to complete his creation. The wooden boot was constructed with the help of a friend who manages a wood shop.

To get the panda pink paint as close as possible to the city’s familiar pink ticket color without looking “too Pepto-Bismol-ish,” Mr. Quintanilla “borrowed” a sample from a ticketed vehicle, took it to a nearby Kinko’s to make a color copy, and then returned it to the violating windshield.

The 150 winners were chosen from 1,300 submissions, according to the sponsoring D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The commission provided artists with blank panda statues, studio space and a $1,500 honorarium.

This weekend, the commission will begin to place the pandas throughout the city, a spokesman said. All the pandas should be on display by the end of the month. Locations have not been determined.

“Someone suggested that they place [my panda] in front of the DMV,” Mr. Quintanilla joked. “I doubt they’d do that, though. If they did, at least it would show that the city has a sense of humor about the situation.”

Parking enforcement is more of a bull market than a bear for the District. The city issued $64 million worth of parking tickets last year, up from $55 million in 2002.

In June 2002, D.C. Council members voted to exempt themselves from most parking regulations.

“Booted” apparently wasn’t a favorite of Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

At a reception featuring the 150 panda creations, sources said the mayor quickly moved on to the next bear after spotting Mr. Quintanilla’s creation.

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