It started with a heartbreaking loss in Game 3 of the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
The St. Louis Blues fell into overtime and were 2-1 down in the series against the San Jose Sharks – thanks to a hand pass from Sharks forward Timo Meier, many fans argue.
Meier seemingly hit the puck to defenseman Erik Karlsson, who scored the winning goal in front of a roaring crowd at the Enterprise Center.
The emotion of this game inspired local artist – and lifelong blues fan – Kyle Lucks to take on a new challenge.
“The city shook with rage and fury afterwards – we were 2-1 down. The next morning I woke up and I just had this ‘I want to change that’ energy,” Lucks told stlouisblues.com. “I believe in good kharma, I believe in channeling positive energy, so I said, ‘You know what? Let’s paint (Jordan) Binnington. He had a good game (which ended badly) so let’s channel it right behind the back of the goalie.'”
“I drew on the first thing I could find, which was a 4×4 piece of wood leaning against the wall, and started looking around online and found a picture of the side of his helmet,” Lucks continued. “It was an idea I’ve had for a while – to really make a goalie’s helmet stand out – because it’s a work of art in its own right. It’s kind of a work of art within a work of art and I knocked out this painting of Binnington and posted it right before Game 4 and we won. I was like, ‘Oh cool, that worked.’”
As the team continued to gather momentum on their way to their historic championship, Lucks continued his streak of Blues paintings, working on a different player for each playoff game. His work garnered national attention – NHL Network aired a segment of his plays during the Stanley Cup Finals.
That attention – as well as the Blues’ success on the ice – motivated Lucks to keep painting, creating a total of 11 tracks during the legendary cup run. Lucks created a painting after Games 4, 5, and 6 of the Western Conference Finals, and each of the seven games in the Stanley Cup Finals was also commemorated with a painting. Lucks painted along with his original painting of Binnington Brayden Nice, Vladimir Tarasenko, David Peron, Colton Parayko, Ryan O’ReillyPat Maroon, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, blues legends Barclay and Bobby Plager and head coach Craig Berube.
Prior to the cup run, Lucks also created a painting of the St. Louis Arena, commonly known as the Checkerdome, to add to his series as an afterthought.
Six pieces depicting current blues — Binnington, Schenn, Tarasenko, Perron, Parayko and Berube — will be on display at the Enterprise Center during the April 19 game against the Boston Bruins, who beat the Blues to win their first championship. Tuesday’s game marks the first time Boston has visited St. Louis since that night.
All six of these paintings on display Tuesday will be signed by their respective likenesses and will be available at auction over the next few weeks leading up to the playoffs, starting April 18 with the Binnington and Tarasenko portraits. A portion of the proceeds from the auction will benefit Blues for Kids, with the remaining five paintings – the O’Reilly painting previously sold – being auctioned off at various Blues for Kids events over the next year.
The first auction will open online at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 18 and near 21 clock after Tuesday’s game. Fans can see the auction by visiting blues.givesmart.com or SMS’blues‘ to 76278.
Each painting represents a specific game, a specific emotion, a specific moment that allows the viewer to relive that historic playoff run. In Lucks’ typically energetic style, the paintings breathe character and life, capturing the emotion of the moment.
“The whole idea was to do it a little bit faster, with a little bit more intuition and energy from the previous game – and having the puck fall the night of the next game,” Lucks explained. “They can look at this painting and remember where they sat, how much beer was poured on them and tell the grandchildren everything. All of these things drive me as an artist.”
Lucks viewed the series as almost performance-based, tracking games and highlighting key moments and players as they arrived. Tethered to his TV to see his team perform on the biggest hockey stage, Lucks watched every second of the playoffs and scoured the internet for the right reference images to best immortalize the players on his dedicated canvas.
“I can tell a story with (every) picture,” says Lucks. “It has drips, it has imperfections, it’s handmade – I think people really appreciate that – and it’s really one-of-a-kind. I work in a style that I wouldn’t be able to replicate if I tried – there’s just too much improvisation and letting color do its thing. Ten different people could request the same photo, and all ten paintings would look different.”
Fans can see the paintings in person and meet Lucks in the Blues for Kids section outside gate 15 at the game on Tuesday.
For more information on Lucks and his artwork, visit kylelucs.com.