There is a new masterpiece in the city of Philadelphia—but don’t expect to see this classical nude hanging on the walls of the Barnes any time soon.
Why? Because it’s a portrait of Gritty, the beloved NHL mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers (and an unofficial symbol of the left).
During last week’s loss to the Boston Bruins, Gritty spent the game on the sidelines, dramatically casting off a white robe while the sounds of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” bumped through the arena. He spent the next 90 or so minutes reclining on a black leather coach, clad only in his hockey helmet, to pose for 28-year-old artist Benjamin Davis.
With his bold orange fur and vaguely deranged, wide-eyed perma-grin—a look created by graphic designer Brian Allen—Gritty was greeted with a mix of confusion, disgust, and delight upon his introduction in fall 2018, ending a 42-year mascot drought for the Broad Street Bullies.
“It me,” proclaimed the mascot’s brand new Twitter account.
Gritty quickly became a social media sensation as he began feuding with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The editors of the World Almanac even selected Gritty for inclusion in the year’s time capsule, a fact that was then memorialized in a clue.
Gritty was the adopted by the Left, with magazine Tweeting that “Gritty is a worker.”
When Philadelphia’s late-counted votes turned the tide in the presidential election, helping President Joe Biden secure the state’s 20 electoral votes, many on social media created memes crediting Gritty—sometimes with the aid of baseball mascot the Phillie Phanatic—for delivering the victory.
The internet was similarly enamored of Gritty’s unexpected turn as artist’s muse, after the mascot evoked a bit of all-purpose Philly slang, Tweeting “paint me like one of your French jawns.”
It was a “surreal” experience capturing the enigma that is Gritty, Davis said on Instagram.
“His gaze, his body—his essence, really. His belly button,” Davis told the . “Hopefully, this is one step closer to being able to do my personal art full-time.”
There is currently no word on plans to exhibit the work—although Gritty’s suggestion is to hang it “over the .”