Artist Mark Paul Deren, known as Madsteez, is fond of talking about how he transforms “blank canvases into an acidic voyage of cosmic explosions.” He’s collaborated on shoes with Nike, and created a 2010 World Cup mural for the apparel giant. He also landed on ESPN.com after he adorned the wall of the Armada Skis main offices “with a gigantic mural of rapper Eazy-E laying out a backflip.” Nearly a decade ago, the New York Times wrote about how Deren and others were supplying downhill ski equipment with “a more aggressive look inspired by hip-hop, street graffiti and punk rock.” And he’s done plenty of studio portraits: of Stan Lee, of Carlton, of Vanilla Ice.
So let’s see: Nike, winter sports, beloved figures, cosmic explosions. Yup, sounds like it’s time for an Alex Ovechkin piece.
Madsteez, as it turns out, is originally from Centreville. An old friend from D.C. — a huge Caps fan — commissioned the above Ovechkin piece, which will be finished this week. The 72″ x 48″ painting was all Deren’s design; the friend just asked for something Ovechkin-inspired.
“When I do my portraits I like to glorify their unique characteristics,” Madsteez wrote in an e-mail. “And with Ovechkin, obviously it’s his teeth (or lack thereof). So a smiling shot was perfect.”
Deren is also fond of adorning his portraits with a single word to sum up the piece. Lee was ‘excelsior,’ Carlton was ‘fresh,’ Vanilla Ice was ‘werd,’ and Ovechkin is GR8.
Deren worked on the piece in his Costa Mesa, Calif., studio; it isn’t currently on display, but it got some online attention when he posted the nearly final version on Instagram. A reader then asked me where this painting was located, which is why I reached out to Madsteez.
Deren, who was born blind in his left eye and who describes himself as “a human color wheel spinning on overdrive,” has long wanted to do a mural in Washington. (See some of his other murals below; many have athletic inspirations.) He’s seeking a wall. So if you know of any walls that need murals in the D.C. area….
Meanwhile, this makes two items about D.C.-sports-inspired artwork in the past week. If anyone knows of a studio artist who specializes in Michael Ruffin stuff, please let me know.