Meet the artist who immortalized Renton sports legends with a giant mural

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In the cluttered but comfortable basement of his West Seattle home, Alexander Codd feels in his element. Posters, works of art, and other cultural memorabilia line the concrete walls of his sanctuary. Nothing feels out of place.

He is an artist, a painter, a designer, a printmaker. He is many and his work has many influences.

From athletes like Marshawn Lynch, Randy Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Ichiro Suzuki to musicians like Jim Morrison, Frank Ocean, Elton John and Nina Simone to artists like Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Shepard Fairey – these are the people who inspire Alexander Codd, and these are people who inspire his art.

These icons and influences are worn on Codd’s sleeve as he often shows them at the center of his many different pieces, and sometimes they literally wear him on their sleeve.

An example of this is a piece recreating a famous photo of a young Babe Ruth, but instead of a Boston Red Sox jersey, he wears a jersey with Codd’s artist logo and the word “Apollo” on his chest.

Apollo and the marble statue head logo adopted from Codd are a recurring symbol that he uses in both his work and his brand. Codd, who studied history as a teacher before embarking on an artistic career, chose the logo after listening to a lecture on the Greek god Apollo, the deity of poetry, music and art.

Codd said he found the character and icon appropriate both as a logo for his artist alter ego and as an image that could be made into an iconic symbol that is representative and recognizable of his brand as an artist.

His path as an artist and his fascination with cultural icons and heroes have led him to meet many of his own.

In 2017 he designed and painted a pair of cleats for Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin to be worn during the “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign.

He recalls getting backstage passes to a Wiz Khalifa show just so he could give the Pittsburgh native a portrait made from a famous picture of the musician. He said the artist accepted the portrait and thanked him for it, but Codd didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until he saw a holiday Instagram post on Wiz Khalifa’s account in which Codd’s piece was proudly hanging on the wall next to the family’s Christmas tree. He felt tremendous pride and affirmation from it.

“It meant everything,” he said. “It was comforting that I could do it.”

Codd said the subjects of his paintings are often people and moments that inspired him to find his own way as an artist – his heroes, who helped him “unpack and take the plunge” to become a full-time artist.

Renton athlete project

Recently, a project that has been in the works for several years was unveiled by Codd and the Renton Municipal Arts Commission, who partnered with him to commission the piece. The mural unveiled in Liberty Park at the back of Giannini Stadium honors seven legendary Renton athletes.

the Mural shows Renton High School alum and Native American athlete Henry Moses; Renton High School alum and the eighth overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft, Clancy Williams; two-time Olympian and alum from Renton High School, Aretha Hill; Lindbergh High School alum and MLB pitcher, David Riske; Boxing legend in the Pacific Northwest Walter Wright; 30-year-old NCAA record holder in the 1600-yard season and Renton High School alum Jerry Belur; and former NFL player and Hazen High School alum Frank Reed.

The large overhead mural uses blacks, grays, and whites to recreate historical photos of the athletes. Codd often uses photos in his work. He used to use Exacto knives to cut out stencils that would help him spray the photos, but an expensive laser cutter helps him save a lot of time and sore hands by doing the stencil cutting for him.

Using photos as the foundation of his work allows him to remix and rebuild the iconic people and moments of popular culture to create something unique. One piece that represents this idea is Codd’s piece in honor of legendary hip hop producer and artist J Dilla.

Detroit-born J Dilla revolutionized the use of the MPC sampler as an instrument. The MPC is a tool that allows sounds and moments from any vinyl record to be looped or chopped and assigned to a pad that can be played with your fingers. J Dilla has reinvented old and obscure records from genres such as jazz, soul and funk. He took musical moments with their own tonal and emotional connotations and translated them into his own track by reinventing and modernizing their sound with his own sampled drums.

Codd’s piece in honor of J Dilla uses a famous photo of the producer using his MPC to sample records for a track. Codd recreated this photo using stencils to paint it in a gray tone color scale. Then he painted a vase of flowers on the desk next to J Dilla’s MPC. It wasn’t just any flower vase – it was exactly the vase from Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” ​​painting. The strong primary colors and characteristic broad strokes that van Gogh used appear in light contrast and disposition to the grayscale photo by J Dilla.

This painting is in a sense a symbol of himself and what Codd does with his art. Much like J Dilla remixes and configures a song from the musical samples and moments that arouse emotions and creativity in him, Codd does the same with his art. He combines two different influences in an homage to both artists and at the same time makes a statement about what kind of artist he is himself.

Codd’s art and the brand he built for himself after making the “leap” to becoming a full-time artist has enabled him to do important things like immortalizing Renton’s sports heroes and giving him the opportunity to give to meet his own heroes.

“I may not be feeling so well,” he said, “but I’m happier.”

Artist Alexander Codd (Photo by Andrew Valentine)

Alexander arranges the panels that make up the mural in Liberty Park (Photo by Andrew Valentine)

Alexander arranges the panels that make up the mural in Liberty Park (Photo by Andrew Valentine)

An original piece by Codd and a portrait of Kurt Cobain (photo by Cameron Sheppard)

An original piece by Codd and a portrait of Kurt Cobain (photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Codd? S portrait of hip hop producer J-Dilla (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Codd’s portrait of hip-hop producer J-Dilla (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

A selfie by Codd next to a portrait of a young Babe Ruth (photo by Cameron Sheppard)

A selfie by Codd next to a portrait of a young Babe Ruth (photo by Cameron Sheppard)

A cactus that Codd etched his logo into with a laser cutter (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

A cactus that Codd etched his logo into with a laser cutter (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Codd? S laser stencil cutter (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Codds Laser Stencil Cutter (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Codd's basement studio full of pieces he created (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Codd’s basement studio full of pieces he created (Photo by Cameron Sheppard)




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