By Jerry Del Priore
Bernard Solco has been an artist since the age of eight and sports lover for as long as he can remember. So, when people at a Super Bowl party suggested he create paintings of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to celebrate his fifth Championship victory, Solco jumped at the opportunity to honor one of football’s best signal callers.
“I’ve been pretty much a portrait painter my whole life,” Solco, 55, said. “I never thought about painting sports figures, but after Brady’s fifth Super Bowl win, I just felt inspired to do 12 paintings of Brady. I decided to do 12 paintings to commemorate his number.”
To make his remarkable “Patriot Warrior” paintings and limited-edition prints (12) even more unique, Solco had Brady autograph the entire series, under the supervision of Tristar Productions—an autograph memorabilia, collectible and trading card outfit in Houston, Texas — at a private signing in Boston just weeks after the Super Bowl win.
“It was very exciting to unwrap the paintings and see the autographs,” the Jersey City-born self-described minimalist artist recollected. “They were beautiful, large signatures. Not only is the artwork unique, the signatures are, too. They’re in accordance with the size to the size of the paintings, which measures 30×40 inches. Some of the signatures are a foot long.”
Solco, who now lives in Manhattan, said he holds the distinction of being the only artist to have original artwork signed by Brady after his fifth Super Bowl win.
In addition to Brady, Solco has produced six paintings and six limited-edition prints of New York Yankee legend Derek Jeter, some of which are signed and authenticated by Steiner Sports, a sports memorabilia company in New Rochelle, New York.
Also, Solco has created a portrait of Mohammed Ali, immortalized on canvas made from a red leather Everlast glove stretched out.
Plus, he has been commissioned to create portraits of actress Brook Shields, President Donald Trump (before his presidency), former United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, master magicians Siegfried & Roy, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, singer/entertainer Wayne Newton and late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner.
While Solco doesn’t particularly like parting with his creations, he does receive a tremendous amount of satisfaction from others who enjoy his works.
“Every time I sell a painting it’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s tough to let them go, but it’s nice to have people collect my work. I sometimes get people coming back after 10 years and ask for new artwork. It’s probably one of the greatest compliments an artist can get. It feels incredible.”