A Westview graduate found herself painting NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo centre court during the recent All-Star basketball weekend in North Carolina.
Sophia Mitchell was tasked to paint the National Basketball Association player on a 1.8 metre square easel in four and a half minutes during the half time show of the All-Star practice during the All-Star weekend in Charlotte, NC, Feb. 15-17.
“I can honestly say, growing up in Maple Ridge, being that art student type, never in a thousand years did I ever think I would be centre court performing for the NBA,” said Mitchell.
The former Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows resident belongs to the music and arts community called Artrageous that is based in New Mexico.
They are an artistic troupe made up of painters, dancers, singers and puppeteers.
Mitchell has been a member of the troupe for the past three years and her main performing talent is speed-painting where the artists have to paint a portrait usually in a six to seven minute time frame.
“The NBA show was unique in that we had to accomplish that in four and a half minutes. Quite the whirlwind,” said the artist.
Five artists performed, including two vocalists and three painters. A portrait of LeBron James and the NBA logo were also painted during the show.
The group got a last minute call to perform. They only had one week to prepare their performance including coming up with the graphic element of the paintings, their costumes, how is it going to be staged on centre court and what is the choreography going to be, how are they going to move.
Mitchell has performed speed-painting a few dozen times and finds custom gigs, like the NBA show, challenging.
”You have to memorize everything about the image. You are memorizing what you are painting. We take images of whoever we’re painting and ‘speed paintorize’ it, as it were, and make it something you can execute in a short amount of time and then memorizing the whole performance,” said Mitchell.
“We dance, we interact with the singers while we are painting. If you think of a theatre production, not only does somebody need to learn their lines, but they need to know where they are standing on set, who they are looking at, at what point do they transition across the stage. So it’s very similar to that,” she added.
The portraits were done in acrylic paint on black canvases. Costumes were black and white, keeping with the colour scheme of the NBA jerseys.
The easels were set up in a triangle in centre court and they were on wheels in order for the three painters to rotate in a circle.
All three paintings were auctioned off for charity. The LeBron James painting went to a Charlotte, North Carolina charity called Right Moves for Youth, that the star is associated with.
“I think it is such an honour to be taking arts on a global scale and in mainstream media, coming from a place where we believe in community and supporting each other and good healthy creative teamwork,” said Mitchell.
“And seeing that recognized by the NBA and getting to perform is such an honour and so much fun,” she said.