By Cherri Gregg


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s the first time the NFL has incorporated art into Draft weekend.

The National Football League teamed up with Mural Arts of Philadelphia to hire 16 artists. Their job: create 32 original pieces of live art that commemorate this year’s draft.

“As the picks were made here at the NFL Draft experience, these artists started to go to work and really put together that athlete’s journey,” says Johanna Faries, VP of Marketing for the NFL.

She says the NFL wanted to connect with the community by incorporating the city’s mural culture. But it is football, so they added spontaneous football flair, including a live audience in the event.

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“This is not for the faint of heart, because you have to work fast and under pressure,” says Jane Golden, who runs Mural Arts of Philadelphia. She explained each artist was assigned two picks, and then got to work.

A closer look at Lyles’ mural of Eagles pick Derek Barnett. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

“I felt honored to be a part of it,” says Amir Lyles, a Germantown-based artist. He was assigned Draft Picks 14 and 31.

He arrived in the “Painting the Future Tent” on the Ben Franklin Parkway around 6pm Thursday and, like the athletes he was assigned to paint, he waited in anticipation until the announcement came.

“When the Eagles picked, I heard the crowd roar, so I said, ‘I think I’m up,'” he says, regarding painting Derek Barnett.

He painted a shadowed version of Barnett, with a green background and an image of the Linc. He included familiar sites, just to make sure the portrait included a bit of Philadelphia.

“The Liberty Bell, the Interstate 76 sign,” he says.

Another hometown favorite, pick No. 13, Camden native and Temple University stand out Haason Reddick, who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals, also got cheers.

“I heard about his story. He’s living the dream,” says Santiago Galeas, who was also assigned to paint pick 29, David Njoku, who’s going to the Green Bay Packers. For Reddick, he gave him a determined look; underscoring his rise from underdog to star.

Reddick’s draft mural. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

“A direct look facing the viewer, because it’s a proud moment for Philadelphia,” Galeas explained.

The paintings will be featured in the “Painting the Future” tent along the south side of the Parkway throughout the NFL Experience.

Once the Draft is over, the pieces will be donated to the Philadelphia School District and showcased at its headquarters.