Atlanta’s internationally known artist Steve R. Allen emerged as the big winner of this year’s 40th Anniversary Bayou Classic in New Orleans.
Allen, who created the “Look of the Game” images that elevated the Bayou Classic to heights never before reached, is now the official holder of the merchandise license for Bayou Classic apparel.
The famed and legendary rivalry between Southern University and Grambling State University in the SWAC Conference generates more than $ 1 million in scholarship funds and draws a quarter of a million people generating nearly $75 million for the local economy.
Allen’s work was literally on the backs and in the hands of the nearly 50,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters who attended the festivities. He not only designed the program book cover, he also designed the artwork for the posters, t-shirts, hats, tote bags and hoodies sold at the event.
His company SRA International has a slogan of “Creating World Class Art for World Class Events”. Before this venture Allen says “merchandising was nonexistent” His goal is to push the sale of merchandise the entire year and not just during the Bayou Classic Weekend.
“I want to have an all year round presence. I created the look of the game so that everything is not disjointed. Not reinventing the wheel but the NFL teams sell merchandise even when not in season. LSU sells their merchandise all year long. Why can’t we do it with the Bayou Classic?” he asks.
The items designed for the Bayou Classic carry a personal touch. Unbeknownst to purchasers, the images are of real people, not clip art.
“This is literally art on these shirts,” he says adding on the game t-shirt, the Grambling football player is the likeness of his brother Kevin and the Southern football Player is the face of his brother Arthur. On the Battle of the Bands shirt The Grambling drum major is an image of his late brother Ronald and the Southern drum major bears the face of a young Steve at age 21.
Allen is perhaps best known for his “Uniting Colors of the World”, a mammoth eighty feet by twenty-eight feet mural, as the City of Atlanta’s “Official” commemoration of its hosting the 1996 Centennial Olympic Summer Games. He has created artwork for a total of eight Olympic Games as well as the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, DR (2003) and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2007).
This year Allen reached another milestone. The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture has acquired four of his paintings as part of its Founding and Permanent Collection. One of the paintings, “Freedom Journey”, includes a portrait of President Barack Obama and chronicles African Americans history in America culminating in his historic election.
In the Fall of 2010 Allen was honored by the Government of Brazil with an invitation to Rio de Janeiro to participate in the celebration of Zumbi dos Palmeras, a great hero in the liberation of Brazilian slaves, and as Guest of Honor for Black Consciousness Week. Also in 2010 his work was displayed in the San Diego International Airport, in partnership with the United States Olympic Committee and San Diego County, CA, as part of its official participation in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
During the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, Allen exhibited a new series of paintings at the Prince Jun Wang Fu Palace in Beijing The signature painting of the exhibition, “A Bridge of Friendship” was presented to the People of China during a handover ceremony on August 28, 2008.
In 2005 Allen created the painting “Olympiqué” as Official poster art for Team USA for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. This painting is one of the four paintings in the Smithsonian Institution NMAAHC. His creation “Olympian Legacy” was also unveiled and presented during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games at the VISA Olympian Reunion Center.
He created the painting “Coming Full Circle” (Return to Athens) that was designated “Official” artwork for the 2004 Athens Olympic Summer Games. This painting is also part of the Smithsonian Institution NMAAHC collection. Allen created the painting “Unity and Peace Through Sport” as an “Official” gift from the State of California, host of the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympic Games, to Athens, Greece.
Allen became involved once again with the Olympic Movement when he was commissioned by the United States Olympic Committee to create “Spirit of the Games” as its “Official” commemorative of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. The painting was presented during the Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Of the painting, the USOC wrote “You can be proud that your art reflects a pictorial history of the most successful Winter Olympiad ever for the United States.” The painting is on permanent display at USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO.
Allen traveled to Sydney, Australia to present “On to Sydney” during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Summer Games to Lord Mayor Frank Sartor and the people of Sydney on behalf of Atlanta and the United States, he created “Olympic Zeal” and presented the artwork to the Federated States of Micronesia on behalf of US Ambassador Diane E. Watson and the United States.
In 1999 Steve was commissioned to create “The Legend” for Henry “Hank” Aaron’s Chasing the Dream Foundation’s 25th Anniversary celebration of Home Run 715 which established the all time Major League Baseball home run record. The painting hangs as part of the Henry Aaron permanent exhibit in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
To purchase merchandise for the Bayou Classic visit www.mybayouclassic.com and click on the apparel button. For more information on Steve R. Allen art and to view more of his art, visit www.steverallenart.com.