The art of Dave "PERSUE" Ross can be seen all over San Diego. From North and South Park to the alleyways and walls of Barrio Logan and the East Village, the local native's most iconic street art character, BunnyKitty (a cat with a bunny suit), became his calling card after first he first painted her in the mid-'90s. At the time he knew that the character would be seen as "different" and "girly," but wanted to present something more positive into the graffiti scene.
A little more than a decade ago, Ross began to work on a book that explained the origins of the character. Keeping with the positive theme, he wanted to present it as a children's book and The Origins of BunnyKitty: A Tale for All Ages was born.
"It helps that there's a lot more acceptance of the kind of art that I do," Ross says. "People can look at this and read it to their kids and appreciate it as art."
Much of the origin story was inspired by Ross' mother, Diane Satenstein, who Ross says had her own dreams of becoming a children's book illustrator. As the story and illustrations for BunnyKitty began to develop, Ross asked his mother to help him with the editing process.
"When I wrote the character of Monny Bunny, the bunny mom that takes BunnyKitty in and sews her bunny suit, I pulled from the most warm and loving person I knew: my mom," Ross says. "When my mom read it for the first time she realized that the character was her. She was touched."
Ross says his mom contributed to the story in so many ways, from general encouragement to contributing the recipe for the magic spell that plays a part in the story. Just after she helped Ross finish the edits, Satenstein was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and eventually passed away in November of 2015. While Ross admits to being sad that his mom will never get to hold the finished book, he knows she'd be happy that he's finally getting it out there. The self-published book, which is available via crowdsourcing website IndieGoGo (link can be found at bunnykitty.com), also comes with special bonus items like plush dolls, limited edition prints and BunnyKitty caps, depending on the contributed amount. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Alzheimer's charities.
"My mom would tell me people are going to love this story," Ross says. "That was over 10 years ago. It has taken me that long to finally paint the illustrations and offer it to the public. At some point I will organize viewings of all the paintings. I plan to do one of the viewings in San Diego so stay tuned."