Prefontaine

In 2015 I was asked to make a mural showing Steve Prefontaine for a local running shoe shop in my neighborhood. Steve Prefontaine lived a short life of 24 years which 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 wanted Pre to be larger than life like the person he was.
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. I built him out of a 3/4″ piece of plywood using one 4′ x 8′ sheet. 

The stars on the sky here are not random. I looked up the star charts for the night / morning that Pre died. I projected them and painted the dots. Made my dad proud with that one! 


The Gresham Remix

It came time that the footwear company had to move their store location. Here you’ll see a whole new background but the same Pre. 

Below is a 2D plywood cutout replica of Pre’s trailer that he lived in. He was known around the world as a top class runner, yet his status as an amature athelete kept him living in poverty. He spoke up about the plight of athletes like him and suggested reforming how we treat our young athletes. I built this to commemorate his activism and tremendous grit even off the track.

If you would like me to visually tell your story, email me at don@donolsen.com to discuss.