Painting the Vikings' All-Stars

UW-Stout grad’s works will grace the Vikes’ new stadium

Justine Childs

BRUSHES ACROSS THE BORDER. UW-Stout graduate Leslie Barlow is producing uniquely Minnesotan artwork.
BRUSHES ACROSS THE BORDER. UW-Stout graduate Leslie Barlow is producing uniquely Minnesotan artwork.

Leslie Barlow is a graduate of UW-Stout who currently resides in Minnesota. Leslie is one of 34 artists chosen to create six paintings of former Minnesota Vikings stars to be hung on display in the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank stadium, which is expected to open for the 2016 football season and to host the 2018 Super Bowl. Nearly 1,100 artists submitted examples of their work to Sports and the Arts, a California company overseeing the project.

“This opportunity means a lot of things for me, but most importantly it means that I get to share my artwork with an entirely new audience that I may not have been able to before,” said Leslie, who earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in 2011. “These really are the fans’ paintings, they are paintings of their team’s heroes that they know and love. To have my paintings next to and a part of that fan energy is going to be such a cool thing to witness.”

Leslie works primarily in oils. She – like all the artists painting the Vikings – is a Minnesota native. She’s currently a student in the Master of Fine Arts program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and she expects to graduate in the spring. Leslie has had her work exhibited throughout the Twin Cities and has won numerous awards, including a third-place ribbon last summer at the Minnesota State Fair juried exhibition.

Although she can’t reveal all the names of the players she has been commissioned to paint, there is one she is able to share: Cris Carter, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who currently works as an analyst for ESPN. 

“To create portraits of these six men is well within the realm of what I do, but adds an additional challenge because they are superstar athletes. Everything from the poses, their expressions, their builds, the uniforms, it all informs the way I paint them; the colors I choose and the compositions of the painting,” Leslie explained. “That part of the project is new, exciting territory, and I’m enjoying it.”

Leslie is also currently working on some new paintings for a collaborative show at the Hopkins Center for the Arts that opens Jan. 14 and works as the gallery manager for a new exhibition space in downtown Minneapolis, the Waiting Room. After school, Leslie plans to travel, possibly teach, and do what she loves above all else – make artwork.

Learn more about Leslie Barlow at www.lesliebarlowartist.com.