Wolves’ playoff run inspires artistic tributes

Timberwolves’ playoff run inspires visual tributes

Timberwolves' playoff run inspires visual tributes

Artist Richard Merchan’s Excelsior studio is filled with paintings and sculptures- a labor of love for 40 years.  

But lately, he says, he’s been catching Wolves fever.   

“Ever since, I’ve been following basketball, something I didn’t do before,” Merchan explains. “Now, I’m crazy about it, chasing after them. I need to know the score, so this is very exciting.”  

With the help of his agent, Hollie Blanchard, owner of the Minneapolis firm ‘Artgirls,’ he’s been selling pieces that feature sports figures, including the Timberwolves, at play.

“It’s just fun getting behind these players and the joy that they bring to our lives,” she says. “I think it’s really about the energy, right? The emotions he’s pouring into the canvas, while he’s painting. I think that’s an intangible item that people can feel when they’re viewing the piece.”

Merchan, 68, who grew up in Venezuela, says he tries to inject a sense of energy and movement into his work.

‘Smearing paint,’ he calls it.

“My style of work is very impressionistic anyway,” Merchan says. “I’m not a precise type of painter, and I think my style is very conductive to sports.”

But these are not the only visuals dedicated to the Timberwolves winning season.

“It’s just incredible, the energy around this is at a whole different level,” exclaims Ryan Tanke, Chief Operating Officer with the Timberwolves, and the Lynx.

We met Tanke near a massive team banner, just across the street from Target Center.

The super-sized poster, with giant photos of team members, is 147 feet long and 36 feet high.

The project was put together by the Timberwolves creative team.

“The city’s been through so much,” Tanke notes. “As much as we’ve had success on the court, you’re starting to see more and more people coming downtown, maybe for the first time in a couple of years.”

On Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey was on hand to help install temporary Timberwolves-themed Street signs.

“We’re painting the town in Timberwolves colors, what it’s all about right now,” the mayor declared. “When you’ve got the Timberwolves playing so darn well- look, I’m a little biased, but I think they’re the best team in the NBA.”

These creations- either painted or printed- help to create that winning feeling.  

“It’s beautiful, it really shows how much the Timberwolves mean to the city, and really shows the city pride,” says Elijah Berg, a fan from Bloomington. “It feels nice to actually have hope in a team to win the championship.”