Nate McClain (American, 1973 - 1997)
Ultimate Sports, 1997
Acrylic on Wall
96 x 192 inches
Courtesy of Coolidge Middle School
Ultimate Sports is an original large scale 8-feet by 16-feet painting featuring the sports of basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer. Nate painted this mural on the wall of the Ultimate Sports sporting goods store in Granite City, Illinois. Nate was 23 years old when he created this artwork.
In September 2004, the Gallery learned that the building containing the mural was scheduled to be demolished the next month (October) as the sporting good store was out of business. The demolition foreman was contacted and he received authorization to extract the mural from the building prior to demolition. Since the mural was on a 16' by 8' wall, it was too large for an individual to keep in a home so alternative options needed to quickly be pursued.
Since the mural was already in Nate's hometown and it had a sports theme, the local high school was contacted to see if they wanted the mural for their gymnasium. The high school was very supportive of the idea; however, the school did not have space to accommodate a mural of such a large size. Undeterred, the next stop was Coolidge Middle School where Nate also attended. The Principal, Rick Talley, graciously donated the school cafeteria wall to be the permanent home for Ultimate Sports mural. However, the school had no budget to cover the $500 to extract and transport the mural. A grassroots fundraising campaign was started to save the mural which gained the attention of the local papers writing articles about Nathan and the mural.
About a week before demolition, the fundraising was still short of the $500 needed. Panic was beginning to set in when Prather Elementary School in Granite City called. It turned out there was a cash fund set up in Lynn McClain's, Nathan's mom's, name. Lynn had taught at Prather prior to her death in 1993 and the fund was sitting dormant. A presentation was made & approved by the Granite City School Board to allow the use of the Prather fund towards preserving the Ultimate Sports mural. In effect, Nate's Mom posthumously ended up saving his mural.
On October 19th, 2004 the Ultimate Sports mural was successfully relocated to its new permanent location at Coolidge Middle School in Granite City, Illinois. A dedication ceremony followed in June 2005 which also showcased 23 original McClain pieces from private collectors.
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