Traveler is taking up permanent residence inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
A 14-foot-by-14-foot mural is being installed at the edge of the stadium’s tunnel and will be visible to most of the crowd during football games. Dubbed "Tradition," the artwork features USC’s mascot being ridden back from another championship at the Rose Bowl (symbolized by a bed of roses on the horse’s back) and the Roman numerals for 1888 — the year of USC’s first football game.
This is the third large-scale sports mural done by local artist Mike Sullivan. Trojan faithful are sure to remember the Mario Danelo tribute he created last year at San Pedro High School. Posters of that mural can be seen hanging in a number of restaurants and other local venues, and proceeds from their sale have gone to the Mario Danelo Endowed Football Scholarship Fund.
"The greatest thing was talking to a couple of students at San Pedro High School, who said they may feel like things are against them, but they can look up and say, ‘Hey, here’s a guy who came from this school and these hallways and did something with his life,’ " Sullivan said. "Hopefully that can inspire some of them."
Danelo was a USC football player from San Pedro who died shortly after USC’s 2007 Rose Bowl victory.
Sullivan also created a Pat Tillman memorial at Arizona State University. He has at least 15 more murals scheduled in the coming year at places such as Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. Most are football related, but UCLA will be getting one honoring its basketball team and Coach John Wooden. Asked if he has a favorite team, Sullivan joked that even though he’s a huge sports fan, "We didn’t have a really good football program at art college! I’m kinda neutral."
A mural series in Laguna Beach gave Sullivan the inspiration to create sports murals at stadiums. After developing an initial concept for each piece, Sullivan spends two to three weeks painting before having the design transferred onto tile for a two- or three-day installation. The tiles are supposed to be maintenance-free and create a dramatic lighting effect under sun or night lights. "They photograph well," he added.
The official dedication at the Coliseum will be at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, just before kickoff of Trojan Huddle, USC’s annual spring football game. USC football alums Paul MacDonald and Anthony Davis will be on hand, along with Traveler.
Poster versions of the mural are available online and should be in retail locations (such as the USC bookstore) soon. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the USC Alumni Assn., which is an important element of Sullivan’s art. "When we do these murals with the colleges, we really try to develop a relationship with the alumni association, with the bookstore, and other people at the university to create a fundraising aspect."
Sullivan’s own path to college took an interesting twist. "An art teacher submitted my portfolio to an art college without telling me, and I won a scholarship to an art college in Detroit."
You may have seen Sullivan’s work before and not realized it. Early on, he did graphics and animation for Sega and Nintendo. Today, he’s the official artist for "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" on FSN.
To see photos of the installation, click here.