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Coloring by number at Prudential Center's Ice Lounge

Friday, 09.7.2007 / 3:03 PM ET / Features
By Eric Marin
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Coloring by number at Prudential Center\'s Ice Lounge

Devils Chairman Jeff Vanderbeek (r.) gets the painting started with the guidance of Tom Mosser.


Click to view gallery of the mural

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newjerseydevils.com – Standing atop a scissor lift nearly 30 feet above the Prudential Center floor, Devils Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek applied a streak of bright red paint to the shoulder of Martin Brodeur's jersey.

After an improbably short eight and a half days of two-handed sketching by artist Tom Mosser and a small team of artists, Vanderbeek's scarlet brush stroke marked the latest phase in the creation of the colossal mural at Prudential Center's Ice Lounge.

A process that began with just simple carpenter pencils and a grand vision to pay tribute to New Jersey's sports heritage, now shifts to acrylic-based paints and sealant.

"It was a dream come true," Mosser said of the opportunity to work on the project. "But I remember first seeing the space and thinking, 'Oh my gosh, it's big.'"

Filling in the drawing with color is expected to take 10 days, followed by another 10 days to refine the details. In the meantime, the largest commissioned piece in Mosser's career is right on schedule.

Mosser designed a draft of the mural in Photoshop.
The mural's concept developed as an homage to the teams that will call Prudential Center home once the all-new venue opens its doors in Newark, N.J., this October: the Devils, Seton Hall Men's Basketball, and Major League Indoor Soccer's New Jersey Ironmen.

Included are representations of Cape May, the Atlantic City Steel Pier, the National Newark and Prudential Buildings, and the gold dome of Newark City Hall.

The Devils organization will be recognized through the likenesses of Brodeur, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko, while former Seton Hall great Richie Regan, and Tony Meola of the Ironmen also are featured.

Mosser, a Pittsburgh native with a fine arts degree from Penn State, expects that this next stage of the mural will be worth a look for anyone that has the chance to see it. For now, though, his audience is limited to crews of construction workers.

"The guys have been great, coming by to take pictures with their cell phones," Mosser said. "At first they were wondering what the heck we were doing up there, but I think it put a little spark into the construction."

Using imaging software, Mosser first digitally composed the mural's individual elements, adjusting and readjusting them as the sketching process required. After laying out the entire piece over a numbered grid on his laptop computer, Mosser covered the 5,365 sq.-ft. wall in pencil-drawn, 3-foot squares, with each one corresponding to a scaled portion of the original.

Next, he printed out the image, one numbered square at a time, and attached them to the mural surface for reference.

"I think I'm customer of the month at Kinko's," he said

Areas of particular detail, such as the eyes on the Brodeur figure that anchors the center of the piece, created the need for grids within grids, sometimes scaling down the squares to as small as two inches.

It's a system, Mosser said, that mimics the method used by Michelangelo to paint the famed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – carving up an immense whole into far more manageable morsels.

"It's a little different because they were on their backs painting the ceiling, but they just went square by square," Mosser said. "That way you can't get overwhelmed by just focusing on the square that's in front of you."

To heighten the impact of the image, Mosser plans on creating "color vibrations" by playing with the subtle effects of complimentary tones. Where there is red in the Devils uniform, for example, there will be tiny amounts of green in the white areas of the crest and jersey striping, improving contrast.

Along the way, the artist says he'll also apply a dry brush technique that will result in visible brush strokes for a more textured finish.

The smooth surface of the dry wall is a far cry from the brick walls that Mosser's work has adorned in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. His art has also appeared on Major League Baseball media guides, and has decorated offices for sports teams right in his hometown.

The magnitude of his Prudential Center project, however, has made him reconsider his Steel City rooting interests.

"The Devils really are my new favorite team," he said.

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