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Arrigo a work of art in his own right

by Mike G. Morreale

Artist David Arrigo, a lifelong hockey fan, has made a career of creating Live Mural Experience (LMX) sports murals, and his masterful work has been displayed all over the world.
David Arrigo loves going to work in the morning. In fact, if you’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed a few of his many creations displayed somewhere on this continent, you’d know why.

Arrigo is an artistic magician and, with no formal training, he’s also a natural.

”For me, this is not a job, but something I have a real passion for,” Arrigo said. ”I was fortunate that this profession kind of fell into my lap and with each painting (96 percent of which is done by air brush), I am learning more and building on the product.”

Over the last 15 years, the 38-year-old painter has thrilled sports fans with awe-inspiring, larger than life replicas of their favorite athletes and teams. He has been commissioned to complete works around the globe, including a recent masterpiece prominently displayed at the NHL All-Star Trading Card and Memorabilia Show at the CNN Center in Atlanta on Jan. 27.

Arrigo, best known for his signature Live Mural Experience (LMX), has a client list that not only includes the NHL, but Major League Baseball, the NFL, NASCAR, American Express, Budweiser, Molson Coors, Labatt Breweries and the Royal Bank of Canada. His heart, however, as a Toronto native, lies with hockey.

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”It’s an incredible honor to be doing these murals for the League,’’ said Arrigo. “I would do this forever if I could. I consider myself one of those very fortunate people who can wake up in the morning and do what they love. My education as an artist is very limited since I had no formal training. Each project I complete is just a little more practice.

”Depending on my deadline, I’m usually at the venue by 7 a.m. and, after setting up, begin painting at 8. I’ll start my day off earlier or later depending on when fans will be around the area I’m stationed (usually within the events),’’ he said. ”I enjoy interacting with the fans, so I want to make it a point to be in the area painting when they are sure to be watching and curious about what I’m doing. I enjoy painting, but also meeting so many new people.’’

The 56th All-Star Game piece, which spanned 17-feet high and 22-feet wide and took six days to complete, included down-to-the-last detail renditions of hometown heroes Ilya Kovalchuck, Marian Hossa and rookie Tobias Enstrom. The Kovalchuck and Hossa portraits were the largest of the seven players featured. Also included were likenesses of Manny Legace of the Blues, Jerome Iginla (Flames), Vincent Lecavalier (Lightning) and Joe Thornton (Sharks).

”The League gives me a parameter of what they’re looking for and they provide me with dimensions,’’ said Arrigo. “I’ll work according to those plans and then come up with sketches and ideas that will fit those dimensions. It’s an incredible honor to be doing these murals. It’s so nice to get a chance to meet so many wonderful people at the different locations. It’s a good-will gesture by the NHL for their fans and they do a wonderful job of promoting the sport. It was great to see so much excitement in Atlanta and the fans were so pleasant to me and passionate about the game.’’

Arrigo’s career took off in 1999 when he produced an extraordinary mural of Wayne Gretzky at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He was then commissioned by the NHL to produce a LMX for the All-Star Game in Toronto in 2000.

David Arrigo was commissioned by the NHL to create an LMX mural of the Atlanta Thrashers' all-stars for display at this year's All-Star Game.

Since then, the NHL has looked to him to promote the larger events at various venues throughout the world. His personal favorite is the program cover he completed for the 2002 All-Star Game in Los Angeles. That same year, he painted a mural of the different players competing at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

”Producing that mural (Olympics) was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, the day after the gold medal game, and in a very elaborate scheme, a portion of the mural was stolen from, you would think, one of the most secure places,’’ Arrigo said. “It still hasn’t been recovered.’’

He has ventured into Sweden on three occasions. In 2000, he completed a LMX of Vancouver Canucks’ stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Markus Nasland and Mattias Ohlund. In 2001, he produced a picture of several players on the Colorado Avalanche who began training camp in the country. In 2003, Arrigo was contacted again to issue a mural of the Toronto Maple Leafs to promote the team’s training camp and play in the NHL Challenge against teams from Sweden and Finland.

”I’m usually told that the mural will remain for two years, but when I return to the location some four years later, it’s still there and appreciated,’’ Arrigo admitted. “I really think fans enjoy coming back to the area where it all took place and having the opportunity to view a picture of the events that transpired. I still receive emails from people in Sweden and Japan who still enjoy paintings I did, four years later.’’

Arrigo, who hopes to have an opportunity to produce a LMX for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, is very much looking forward to next season’s All-Game Game in Montreal. He has already been given the go-ahead and is in the preparation stages.

”I’m gearing up for Montreal and looking forward to that since they’ll also be celebrating 100 years of hockey,’’ Arrigo said. “It’s, without question, one of the most storied programs in the League and it’ll be a real honor.’’

Visit Arrigo’s web site at

Contact Mike Morreale at

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