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Area artist is quick on the draw

| Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009

Larry Klukaszewski was recently contacted to do some work for the "Mafia".

Luckily for Klukaszewski, their interests lie in the fact he also bleeds Black and Gold.

"I was hired by the No. 1 Steelers fan club in the nation: The Steel City Mafia," Klukaszewski said. "I'm painting a Troy Polamalu ball for those guys."

He was hired to paint the autographed ball for the club's annual Sit-Down Weekend. The event takes place this weekend, the weekend of team's first preseason game against the Cardinals.

"They have people coming in from all over the country," Klukaszewski said. "It (started) Thursday night. Friday night (was) the banquet."

The ball is from Klukaszewski's personal collection.

"Klu," as he is known to colleagues, first discussed the project with Chris "Boss Chinstrap" Eger, the president of the Mafia's Northern California chapter.

"We'd like him to become the official artist of the Mafia," Eger said. "It's good to have that connection with the artist himself."

Eger, 34, of Elk Grove, Calif., attended the game Thursday.

Eger initially found Klukaszewski's art via MySpace, the social networking Web site.

Klukaszewski does much of his networking through MySpace and his own site.

As a teacher at Kiski Area, Klukaszewski tends to keep his MySpace page more private to viewers during the school year.

During the summer months, when school is out, he does not have such restrictions.

"I post a lot of (Mafia) events online. He came a cross one of my event postings," Eger said. "He gave me his Web site information, and I checked out his site."

The ball was raffled off, and the proceeds will be given to charity.

Creating work for charity is nothing new for Klukaszewski.

In June, he sold two pieces at the James Farrior Foundation Celebrity Weekend. Both raised about $3,000 for the foundation.

He is looking to continue to provide projects for the foundation, as well as personal projects for other Steelers.

"I have a couple things in the works with Willie Parker," Klukaszewski said. "I am working on a project for Kenny Anderson, the Steelers' quarterbacks coach."

He was recently commissioned by the Washington Wizards to paint a basketball to commemorate forward Antawn Jameson's 15,000th career point.

With the recent successes of the Penguins, Klukaszewski would like to expand the subjects he creates.

He painted an image of Sidney Crosby lifting the Stanley Cup, on a puck. The puck was sold following an exhibit at Penn State New Kensington.

"I've been so busy, I haven't even really had time to branch out," Klukaszewski said. I haven't been able to get out into the current guys."

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