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Howard's subject of new JLA mural

Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 5:10 PM / News
By Zack Crawford  - DetroitRedWings.com Intern
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Howard\'s subject of new JLA mural
Artist David Arrigo preps a wall on the concourse for a new Ram Truck mural at Joe Louis Arena this week. When completed the mural will feature goalie Jimmy Howard. (Photo by Zack Crawford)
DETROITJimmy Howard has had big things going on lately. With two shutouts in the past week, a 1.63 goals-against average (fifth in the league) and a newborn son, the 27-year-old goalie has been in some titanic situations. Now, to top it all off, he’s literally going to be “larger than life” on a wall inside Joe Louis Arena.

As part of their partnership with the Red Wings, Ram Truck is sponsoring the painting of a mural on the main concourse outside of Section 115 during the home games this weekend. Upon completion, the mural will feature an airbrushed replication of an imposing, masked Howard positioned between the words ‘Guts’ and ‘Glory’.

Taking on the challenge of covering the massive wall is David Arrigo, a Michelangelo of the hockey world whose live, in-event painting bridges the gap between art and sports and allow fans a first-hand appreciation for the synthesis of his work.

In conjunction with the mural, Arrigo has painted a special Ram Truck goalie mask — the same mask that Howard is wearing in the mural, which will be on display while he works.

A self-described “blue-collar artist,” Arrigo is a down-to-earth disciple of the hockey world from north of Toronto whose break into the sports-art scene coincided with Wayne Gretzky’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

After painting a mural on an exterior wall of Gretzky’s Toronto restaurant, Arrigo, who has no formal art training, was asked by the Hall of Fame to produce a mural to commemorate Gretzky’s induction in 1999. The NHL caught wind of his work and invited him to create pieces at the 2000 All-Star Game in Toronto. From there, the “Live Mural Experience” was born and Arrigo quickly became a hot commodity within the sports world.

Since launching into the sports scene, Arrigo has traveled all over the world to create pieces for NASCAR, the Olympics, NHL, MLB and the Super Bowl. His expertise and passion for hockey naturally propelled him into goalie mask art and design, a niche market in which he has collaborated with many professional and junior goalies.

Arrigo believes that the organic nature of the Live Mural Experience — being able to watch as intricate details slowly come to life on a canvas — offers fans much more than a photograph or print.

“I think it interests people a lot more because they know that somebody physically did this,” Arrigo said of the mural experience. “And to watch them do it, to watch the progression, they really enjoy that.”

As the Wings take on the Dallas Stars tonight, fans will be able to witness Arrigo airbrushing the finishing touches on the wall. No stranger to being watched as he paints, Arrigo doesn’t mind if people bother him while he works.

“I invite that with people,” Arrigo said. “I really want to interact with the people. That’s the whole point of the Live Mural Experience — to create that interaction.”

As someone who considers himself a link between fans and players, Arrigo is all about personal interactions. He loves being able to introduce kids to NHL players whenever he can and cites the moment when he first reveals a new mask to a goalie as one of the best parts of his job.

“I have so much fun doing it, I really do,” Arrigo said as he took a break from prepping the wall last week. “I get paid to paint. How could you go wrong with that?”

When it comes to an artist being passionate about both his canvas and his subject matter, it’s clear that Arrigo is the real deal.

CLICK HERE to find pictures and descriptions of Arrigo's work.

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