HARRIS COUNTY-HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Artist Otterstad ready to unveil massive Astros mural

Opie Otterstad unveiled his latest painting. Patti Smith/Twitter

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You’ve been watching him for months now.

The man in the fedora and plaid jacket. Always on his scaffold, always hard at work on that giant painting.

You recognize Altuve. Keuchel. Verlander. The scene – Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. And definitely the moment – your Houston Astros winning the 2017 World Series in seven.

Opie Otterstad has been a staple on the concourse at Minute Maid Park all season. His last stop was just behind the Insperity Suite, but he’s moved around the park, letting fans see at least one-fifth of what will be a Texas-sized celebration mural for everyone.

The final product – all 10 feet x 25 feet of it -- will be unveiled at a press conference Friday afternoon at 4:30 on the Suite level. That’s when Otterstad, Houston’s own and one of Texas’ best sports artists, will show off the challenging piece.

It is, for the most part, a larger version of the work he released this spring, but with some tweaks. Because of the size and proportion, some of the players are in a slightly different position and the background has changed a bit

“Doing a mural like this is different than doing a piece in the studio because in the studio, it’s a completely different rhythm,’’ Otterstad said. “You paint sort of on a regular schedule, but when you add the element of fans and people talking to you, it’s a different experience all together.’’

Fans and friends have dropped by to see the progress over the last four months, but, before the All-Star break, Otterstad took the painting back to his studio to stand with it by himself – no people, no distractions – and put the finishing touches on the canvas.

Otterstad has done the official World Series celebration paintings for the past 15 years. He’ll tell you the 2004 World Series when the Boston Red Sox snapped the curse and the 2016 Series that went to the Cubs are among the special moments. But nothing can compare to being at every Astros’ playoff game last season and being on the field for the Game 7 win.

In fact, he did an entire series of paintings of the Astros – including the smaller official painting -- that can be viewed at Off The Wall in The Galleria.

In addition to baseball – Otterstad has a special affinity for the sport going back to his younger days when he grew up with Nolan Ryan and Jose Cruz’s children – he has also painted athletes like Ben Crenshaw, Brett Favre and Tom Brady.

He was also the official artist for the first annual Houston Sports Awards and the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

Each work has a place in his heart, but this mural? It’s on another level. And, if the Astros would happen to repeat? Would he do another massive project?

"This sets the new precedent,'' he said. "It's the gateway painting for a new culture of winning in this town. I don't know that I'd want to work on a painting this big again. I'm not a muralist. I like painting big, but this is on a completely different level."








 

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It was 2002 and the city of Houston was rewarded with the NFL's 32nd franchise. I remember the newspaper special section with all the info points on the new team. There was even a full page graphic explaining how the grass plates were constructed. (Side Note: We should've known right then and there it was going to be disastrous!) There was a level of excitement unseen since the Rockets won a title, I'd assume. People were wearing “32, Houston” jerseys. There was more Battle Red, Deep Steel Blue, and Liberty White around town than a Fourth of July day parade.

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