As part of the promotion for tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders in Mexico DF (Mexico City), the NFL put on an exhibition of helmets for all 32 of its teams redesigned by local street artists.
The helmets are handpainted on enormous sculptures in Paseo de la Reforma, a broad avenue cutting through the city. Each independent design is interpretive and most bear no resemblance or reference to the franchise’s existing logo or brand identity. But some of them are quite beautiful.
This L.A. Rams rendition reminds me of the ancient rock paintings known for their recurring shamanic forms and bighorn sheep near China Lake, California.
And also of this disturbing comic by Junji Ito.
Many of the designs are purely abstract, or feature geometrical patterns influenced by traditional Mexican art.
Others are more representational and scenic, like this Vikings display that looks like something from Harold’s purple crayon crossed with Henri Matisse.
Some of them seem like missed opportunities.
This Jaguars one could have been one of the dopest, considering the historical use of jaguar imagery in Mexican folk art, a style which can be used to extraordinary visual effect even in contemporary graphic arts. Instead it’s just a lame claw scratch on a plain black and gold helmet. The front apparently shows a realistic Jaguar face, which is not nearly as cool as the Mayan motif.
Others are closer to the familiar NFL counterparts.
The Steelers’ helmet looks like a cosmic version of the classic Steelmark hypocycloids.
A few of them have radically different appearances when looked at from the opposite side. Here is the Chiefs’ version:
The Seahawks one, also, has two different sides. The right profile of the Seattle helmet, the angle the league has used in most of its promotions of these sculptures, is a bit baffling. It has a two-tone scheme reminiscent of the official current Jaguars’ helmet, only in blue and green, and the presence of a flipper suggests a fish more than any bird. (This seems to be sort of a theme: The Buffalo Bills helmet also looks like a fish.) At least you get the idea of the sea.
But the other side is another trip. It features 12 eyeballs, to represent the 12th Man, floating disembodied in that sea of blue and stripe of green algae.
This also seems in some ways like a throw to the end zone from the two-yard line, but at the same time there’s something appropriately Seattle about it. The sculpture definitely looks like something you could find in Fremont, and in the spirit of the abstraction and weirdness of the rest of the helmets, and the experimentation by the commissioned artists, it doesn’t seem right to complain about not getting something fresher.
I tried to learn more about the individual artist who did the Seahawks helmet, to get a sense of the inspiration or just to find out who it was, but unfortunately the NFL hasn’t appeared to promote the actual painters who made these pieces. It’s rather a shame the league hasn’t done more to credit these men and women, especially since the point of the project was to highlight the local arts community.
For example, this killer Chargers interpretation clearly shows the signature of Came Moreno, an artist from Pachuca, Mexico.
Here is Moreno’s profile page on Global Street Art, where you can see many more colorful murals. A few of the other artists’ signatures are visible, but it’s too bad there’s no mention of the artists on any publicity material from the NFL or that the league hasn’t made available more information behind some of these imaginative creations.