The nation’s capital has a new monster.
No, it’s not that kind of monster. This one was not born of politics or injustice. It does not feed on fear or breed division.
This monster has wings and large round eyes and exists because a 4-year-old boy asked nicely and then made a compelling case for it.
This monster is Mothra, and how her image came to land at the top of a mural on the side of a restaurant in Shaw offers a lesson in persistence and the power of advocacy when done right.
Many children fear monsters. Konrad Anderson, who will turn 5 in July, might have developed a love for them before he was born.
He was still in his mother’s womb when she and his father watched “Godzilla” in a theater. The couple ended up using a photo snapped of them after that movie as their pregnancy announcement. Then after Konrad was born and started to talk, his first word was “smok,” which is “dragon” in Polish, his maternal grandparents’ native language.
You can imagine, then, Konrad’s excitement when he noticed a mural of monsters going up on the side of Zeppelin, a restaurant he passes on his way to and from school.
He watched as a two-story-tall Godzilla took form and wanted to know more about the creature, said his mother, Maggie Koziol. As 4-year-olds tend to do, he asked questions and then more questions. Soon his parents found themselves going to the library to check out books and including the monster’s adventures in his bedtime stories.
Konrad also took his questions directly to the artist, Patrick Owens. He asked him about his plans for the wall, and they talked about their favorite monsters. Koziol recalled one particular conversation. The mural had grown to include King Kong, an octopus and two zeppelins, which is a type of airship, but Konrad felt it was missing something crucial.
“What about Mothra?” his mother recalled him asking Owens that day, and then again each time he saw him after that. “If Patrick was outside, Konrad would stop and say, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, but where’s Mothra?”
He even pointed out a spot above Godzilla’s tail that would be perfect for the winged creature.
“There is all this space over here and you could put her right there,” he said.
Owens said at the time he was actually considering how to fill that spot on the wall and was leaning toward painting planes. He said Mothra had been included in an original mock-up of the mural but had been cut from the final plans.
Plans can change, though, and they did, after Konrad took one more step.
Before school one day, he asked his mom to pull up an image of Mothra on her computer. He then sat down to draw a picture of the creature. Maybe the artist just needed to see what Mothra looked like, he told her.
“You think your kid will move on,” Koziol said. “Konrad doesn’t move on. Konrad perseveres in a way that is amazing.”
After capturing the creature’s likeness, down to her large blue eyes and her orange-dotted wings, he wrote: “Mothra” at the top. He also scribbled, “To the artist from Konrad.”
He then asked his mom to pick him up from school that day, so she could help him give it to Owens. That afternoon, Owens wasn’t there, so they left it with a manager. Owens said that when he and the restaurant’s owners learned about the picture, they decided that was it. They agreed then, he said, “we have to do Mothra right now.”
Owens said he didn’t tell the family anything and decided instead to start working on the image early one morning and have most of it done to surprise Konrad as he walked home from school. A video of that moment shows Konrad and a friend catching their first glimpse of the wall.
“Mothra!” Konrad yells, throwing his arms in the air. “That’s awesome.”
“That’s up there,” Owens tell him in the video, “because you requested it.”
Koziol said that recognition was “so meaningful” to her son.
“When I came home, he called his grandma and said, ‘I did it! We did it! Mothra is up on the wall!’” she said. “I can’t believe he’s 4½ , and he’s fighting for something he thinks is the right thing to fight for and he’s convincing people.”
Owens, who is a father of a 13-year-old, said he wanted Konrad to know that he had asked in the correct way. He said people often offer suggestions, saying he should do this or he should do that, but Konrad did his research.
“I just wanted him to know it was truly through persistence, the right type of persistence,” Owens said. “He was polite about it. He gave me an example of what he would like to see. He wasn’t insistent on it.”
Afterward, Koziol publicly thanked Owens and the restaurant in a post that was published on PoPville. She wrote, “I want to give a shout out to the owner and the amazing artist Patrick Owens — they made this little boy’s monster dreams come true.”
Koziol said she has since heard from other parents and neighbors who, like her, see more than monsters in that mural now.
“I never thought I’d think of Mothra as all that is good in the world,” she said.
Owens said he’s not sure yet if he’s done with the mural. He still sees some open spaces on the wall and might add a few more monsters.
Konrad has noticed those empty spots, too.
On the way to school one morning this week, he turned to his mom and mentioned how there might be just enough space to fit a tiny version of Rodan, a giant Pteranodon that also appears in the Godzilla films.