In 2015 I was asked to make “A big mural showing Steve Prefontaine” for a local running shoe shop in my neighborhood. Steve Prefontaine lived a short life of 24 years was filled with a great deal of accomplishment and a tragic end. At the time of his death he held every American distance running record from 2,000m to 10,000m.
There are lots of photos of Pre out there. I looked at what I could find and began to sketch him, letting him change and gain a more unique character at each stage.
I chose to build Pre out of 3/4″ Plywood. I figured it out so I could get all his parts out of one 4′ x 8′ Sheet. When assemble the pieces stacked up to give some dimension to the front leg crossing over the back leg. It made him much easier to move around. I had a regular sized car at the time, and he fit in the back seat as long as I didn’t have the kids with me. Up on the wall he was over 10′ tall and quite muscular. He was shorter than most long distance runners of the era so I wanted him to still seem pugnacious despite his scale.
The stars on the sky here are not random. I looked up the star charts for the night / morning that Pre died, and then I projected them and painted the dots. A bit of an easter egg for those in the know… you know?
The Gresham Remix
It came time that the footwear company needed to move their store location. I cooked up a whole new landscape background for them and then remounted the plywood pieces.
Steve Prefontaine lived in this trailer. He was known around the world as a top class runner, yet his status as an ameture athelete kept him living in poverty. He spoke up about the plight of athletes like him and he suggested reforming how we treat our young athletes. I built this 2D plywood cutout replica of Pre’s trailer to commemorate his activism and his tremendous grit even off the track.