Did you think this would be a slow news week? Maybe an injury update here or a scouting report there, but overall an uneventful period before the semifinals. Well, you were wrong. From the Internet’s very own disreputable flea market emerges what might become the cultural moment of the hockey season.
(Are we building this up too much?)
Artist Aleksandr Reut has crafted Washington Capitals – We are the Champions!, an exquisite 40″ x 32″ oil painting on canvas. This inspired (yet absurdly premature) work of celebratory art and its partner piece are available for bid or purchase on eBay right now. Starting bid is only $5,000, so crack open those piggy banks.
A 50-something Ukranian ex-pat living in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Reut fills the daytime hours as an architect, but the muses compel him to high art. A decade-old profile from Harrisonburg’s Daily News-Record (reprinted here by brama.com) extols Reut’s passion for mixed media as a sculptor, but he tells me that it’s hockey that really inspires him.
“I used to play hockey myself,” Reut tells me by phone. “When I moved to the U.S. twenty years ago, the Capitals were my only comfort zone. Finally, they are pretty close to the Stanley Cup.”
Close, I am quick to point out, is a distance still measured at one dozen wins. But Reut’s enthusiasm does not waver.
It’s important to understand that these are images of aspiration, not celebration. “I painted those two paintings right after their loss to the Montreal Canadiens [in the 2010 playoffs],” Reut says. “I called Ted Leonsis. He really liked the idea, but he thought it was kind of premature.”
Hell yes, but we dig it anyway.
Champions depicts the Washington Capitals in a medieval setting. As knights in solemn triumph having just slain hockey’s equivalent of St. George’s dragon, they gather to in court to receive Lord Stanley’s Cup from two… — well they’re dwarfs, aren’t they? Settling a nagging question, Reut tells me the little people are part of the painting’s dark-ages milieu and don’t represent anyone (*cough* Marcus Johansson *cough*).
There’s George McPhee in academician’s garb and Bruce Boudreau as a royal clergyman (“preaching and teaching, you know!” says Reut). King Ted Leonsis himself rides a horse with his flaxen wife by his side. The Knights of the Round Puck stand at far left. There’s Ovechkin, Green, Semin, Backstrom, Knuble, and Varlamov. And, oh yeah. The President and First Lady are there, too.
“You see Barack Obama and his wife standing behind the Stanley Cup,” Reut laughs across the line, “I didn’t know about the huge reception [for the Chicago Blackhawks] yet when I painted this.”
In the background are some of D.C.’s most striking landmarks. The Capitol, the National Cathedral and Georgetown University sit atop the hills like the mythical Camelot — warmed by diffuse, Albionic sunshine.
In the world of Reut’s art, hockey and knighthood are one and the same. He cites for me Mike Green’s recent sacrifice and urges the team to institute the title Knight of the Year to “the most noble and courageous and handsome” player on the team. Reut nominates Green for the honor, and we second the motion.
Yes, this is exactly the kind of thing we should be avoiding right now. Caps fans already have a reputation as overeager and prone to self-congratulation. But this is not that. Full of humor and fun and good will, this painting embodies what we love about each other and the team that we cheer on. This is precisely the kind of attitude that our community needs. So go put a bid in. You’ll have a beautiful painting to hang in your den and a great story to tell.
But please: lock it in a dark room for a couple months first.
More Art from Alex Reut
Thanks to @itallfallsdwn for unearthing this gem for everyone.
Appendices compiled by Ian Oland.