Painting honors Western Pennsylvania's Hall of Fame quarterbacks
There are 23 modern-era quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Six are from Western Pennsylvania: Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas and George Blanda.
Local artist Dino Guarino was tasked with capturing those hall of famers in an oil-on-canvas painting to help celebrate the upcoming Gridiron Gold event, the first gathering of the players to celebrate their careers.
Guarino, with the help of Neighborhood Legal Services Association and Huntington Bank, unveiled the painting Tuesday in advance of the June 6 event at Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, Downtown.
Guarino said the inspiration for the painting was “Main Street Western Pennsylvania.”
“It is a lot of my growing up where I did in the Brookline section of Pittsburgh,” Guarino said. “A lot of the football stadiums in these communities were cut out of the neighborhoods.”
The painting depicts Blanda (Youngwood), Kelly (East Brady), Marino (Oakland), Montana (New Eagle), Unitas (Mt. Washington) and Namath (Beaver Falls) at different stages of releasing a pass that, when viewed in its entirety, is a start-to-finish throwing motion.
Below the images of the quarterbacks is an old-school neighborhood with two sandlot teams playing on a Friday night.
“That could be Beaver Falls, Aliquippa, Ambridge, New Castle, something from the early '60s,” Guarino said.
The original painting will be auctioned off next month during the Gridiron Gold event, where Montana, Marino, Namath and Kelly, along with the families of Unitas and Blanda, will be honored. John Unitas Jr. will represent his father, and Blanda's wife will represent her husband.
A limited number of signed and unframed reproductions are available through NLSA for $2,900.
“It celebrates Western Pennsylvania's football history,” said Sue Shipley, president of Huntington Bank in the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley Region.
Steelers president Art Rooney II will serve as honorary chairman of the event, which will feature conversations with Kelly, Marino, Montana and Namath. NFL Films will produce a feature about the conversation.
Ex-Steelers linebacker and current assistant coach Joey Porter will serve as auctioneer.