Rick Rush has created memorable sports paintings for more than four decades that have depicted everything from Super Bowls, World Series championships, the Olympics, the Kentucky Derby and even sports legends such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Nolan Ryan.
But when he was commissioned to create a painting commemorating the 2019 Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, he tried something he had never done in his 40-plus years as artist.
"We wanted the players to see the image first, so I unveiled a painting (to them) that wasn't finished. You just don't do that," Rush told stlouisblues.com.
Rush had to show the players the project while it was still in progress so they could help him create it. Many of the players who helped capture the Stanley Cup for the first time for the city of St. Louis added a stroke of paint to Rush's painting.
"As I was driving, I started thinking about the idea of how the St. Louis Blues hockey team had put such a mark on hockey forever," Rush recalled. "I thought it would be really neat if the players had an opportunity to put their mark on the Stanley Cup (in my painting), just like they put their mark on hockey. And as I was thinking that, my friend (and former Blue) Mike Zuke said to me, 'You're gonna let a group of hockey players get close to that painting with a paint brush?' And I said 'Yeah, if they can handle a hockey stick like that, they can handle a paint brush. It's no big problem.'"
The end result is "Market Street Dream" - an incredible piece of artwork that captures not only the team's first championship and some of the amazing moments from the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, but also a lot of the team's 52-year history leading up to the historic win.
Video: Blues help paint Rush's Market Street Dream painting
Here are a few amazing details worth mentioning:
- Jordan Binnington's memorable pad save on Joakim Nordstrom in Game 7 sits front and center in the painting. That save, which came in the third period when the Blues held a 2-0 lead in a must-win game on the road, helped carry the Blues to victory.
- Vladimir Tarasenko's incredible second-effort goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is depicted to the left of Binnington. That goal helped the Blues overcome a 1-0 series deficit to even the best-of-7 series at 1-1.
- Ryan O'Reilly's wraparound goal in Game 4 beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and gave the Blues a 1-0 lead. Because that goal was scored at Enterprise Center in the Blues' first-ever Stanley Cup Final victory in St. Louis, O'Reilly is depicted in his Blues' home jersey.
- The Stanley Cup appears in the center of "Market Street Dream" and includes brush strokes from the players who helped capture the championship. The strokes were added at Centene Community Ice Center long before the project was completed.
- The iconic St. Louis Arena, which served as the home of the Blues from 1967 until the team moved to Enterprise Center in 1994, is depicted behind the image of players celebrating on the ice. Rush felt it was important to capture the entire history of the team in "Market Street Dream," and the Old Arena on Oakland Avenue is where that dream started.
- The Blues' retired numbers are visible along the top of the painting. Bobby and Barclay Plager's numbers are lowered to commemorate the moment Bobby's number was retired in 2017. On that night, as Bobby's No. 5 was raised, Barclay's No. 8 was lowered so both numbers could be raised to the rafters together. "That was one of the best memories I had with Bobby Plager," said David Keinath, who commissioned Rush to create the painting. "I was so inspired by that and my eyes teared up. One day at a meeting (about the painting) I told Bobby to look at the banners and he loved that. His eyes watered, too."
- The Enterprise Center scoreboard reflects the final score in Game 7 and features an image of Head Coach Craig Berube and former captain Alex Pietrangelo, who each played critical roles in helping the team capture the first title in franchise history.
- The fans in the painting show the incredible support from a city that waited 52 years for its first championship. Blues chairman Tom Stillman, President and CEO Chris Zimmerman, Bob Plager, Alexander Steen, Laila, Charles Glenn, Bruce Affleck and many more are visible within the crowd in "Market Street Dream."
"I love putting little symbols that tell the story within the story," Rush said. "I remember a friend of mine who was a collector saying 'You know, I walked down the hall and saw this print I have of yours, and for the first time I saw something new that I had never seen.' That just made my heart glow. I wanted that to be in my piece of the Blues. The 'Market Street Dream' was a big dream, and it was a big dream for a lot of years. The St. Louis Blues brought that dream home to Market Street and to St. Louis."
Now, fans can bring their own print of Rush's "Market Street Dream" home.
A limited number of prints - along with custom framing options - are available to purchase now at STLAuthentics.com. Proceeds from the prints will benefit Blues for Kids and the Rick Rush Alliance.