Alumna’s paintings of iconic Vikings will grace new stadium

Leslie Barlow, UW-Stout BFA graduate, is one of 34 artists chosen for project

November 18, 2015

The new Minnesota Vikings football stadium in downtown Minneapolis hasn’t opened yet, but a University of Wisconsin-Stout alumna already has scored a “touchdown” there.

Leslie Barlow, a 2011 graduate, has been commissioned to create six paintings of former star Vikings players to hang inside U.S. Bank stadium.

Leslie Barlow paints in her Minneapolis studio.The stadium will open for the 2016 National Football League season and host the 2018 Super Bowl.

Barlow is one of 34 Twin Cities artists chosen to create pieces for the stadium. Nearly 1,100 artists submitted examples of their work to Sports and the Arts, a California company overseeing the curation of the art collection. The company has curated art for other high-profile venues, including Yankee Stadium in New York and Levi’s Stadium, home of the NFL’s 49ers, in San Francisco.

The Vikings stadium artists were announced in October, with several additional artists expected to be announced at a later date.

Although she isn’t a “huge sports fan, I love cheering on my home teams, the Vikings, Twins, Wild, etc., so when I was asked to create portraits of six iconic Vikings, I was so excited,” said Barlow, who primarily creates oil paintings. Learn more at her website.

Leslie Barlow, a self-portraitA Minneapolis native, she even has a childhood memory of meeting one of the former players she will be painting, Cris Carter, an NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver from the 1990s who has become an analyst for ESPN. Carter once visited Barlow’s elementary school.

Barlow can’t reveal the names of the other players she’ll be painting.

Since earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts at UW-Stout, Barlow has been living in Minneapolis. In addition to painting, she is a Master of Fine Arts student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and expects to graduate in spring 2016.

“My time at UW-Stout was such a great experience. I liked the emphasis on foundations in the program, as that really helped me become confident with working with the figure,” Barlow said.

Barlow has exhibited her work throughout the Twin Cities and nationally, winning numerous awards, including a third place last summer in the Minnesota State Fair Juried Exhibition.

Barlow’s success hasn’t surprised Tamara Brantmeier, an associate professor and director of the School of Art and Design at UW-Stout.

Leslie Barlow“Leslie was a student who did not settle for mediocrity – she didn't settle for ‘that's good.’ She seeks what is just beyond her grasp. She knows there is more to discover in her creative research,” said Brantmeier, noting that Barlow landed a sought-after internship at the Soap Factory exhibit space in Minneapolis the summer after she graduated.

One focus of Barlow’s work is revealing multiculturalism, “otherness” and identity through the human figure. Brantmeier sees that focus shining through in Barlow’s paintings.

“The subject matter of her work has become more self-reflective and more compelling in its authentic voice. I am proud of her for investigating her ethnic and cultural self,” Brantmeier said. “She has a rare balance of visionary and implementation skills. We are so proud of Leslie – she is a force.”

The stadium will include about 500 pieces of art, including impressionistic landscapes, abstractions, mosaics and Vikings shields and helmets. Another one of the 34 artists selected is a former Vikings star, Carl Eller.

“This partnership provides another avenue to connect Minnesotans with the stadium project,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, in a news release. “This is a great opportunity to showcase Minnesota artists. The selected artists are incredibly talented and their works will provide another unique feature in U.S. Bank Stadium.”



Top: Leslie Barlow works in her Minneapolis studio.

Middle: Leslie Barlow, a self-portrait

Bottom: Leslie Barlow