A portrait of faith for Patriots

Jan 24 2012

By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa with Megan Johnson

When Somerset artist Brian Fox painted his moving tribute to the late Myra Kraft, little did he know he was creating an inspirational talisman that would go all the way to Super Bowl XLVI with the New England Patriots.

“I know that it is a very special piece,” Fox told the Track. “But I think what really makes it special, is that it came from the players’ hearts.”

Fox’s painting, which depicts a gaggle of Patriots, pointing skyward towards the now-iconic MHK patch, has sat in the team locker room at Gillette Stadium
Photo by David Silverman Photography
Robert Kraft is presented a painting the team had done in memory of Myra Kraft.
for every game since the team presented it to owner Robert Kraft on Christmas Eve. The Patriots haven’t lost since.

“I heard that when they were down 21 to nothing to Buffalo, Mr. Kraft told his assistant to go get the painting and put it in the locker room,” the artist said.

As you know, Tom Brady [stats] & Co. came back to win that one 49-21. So it should come as no surprise that the painting will be traveling to Lucas Oil Stadium for the final game, the Feb. 5 Super throwdown with the New York Giants. Because, in a season dedicated to the memory of Myra Kraft, Fox’s work reminds the team whom they are playing for.

“She’s with us every step of the way,” Brady said yesterday on WEEI. “We wear those patches on our jersey and the painting that was commissioned by our team as a present to Mr. Kraft sits in our locker room on game day. I’m sure it will be there on Super Bowl Sunday too. It’s a reminder for us what a special season this is for the owner of our team and his family and all the people who loved Mrs. Kraft.”

With its emphasis on team, the painting is a throwback to the 2001 Patriots — the first New England Super Bowl winners — and its genesis is another unlikely success story. Just over seven years ago — with a wife, two small kids and a mortgage — Fox gave up a cushy job designing for a successful apparel company to become a full-time artist.

“It was a literal leap of faith,” he said. “My wife’s parents are old-school Portuguese people. We didn’t even tell them for a month that I was quitting to go paint.”

Fox got the idea to do a portrait of Curt Schilling [stats], who was in his first year in Boston, and he offered to donate it to the then-Red Sox [team stats] ace’s charity.

“Then they won the World Series and people were ravenous for anything Red Sox,” he recalled. “I just got swept up in it.”

Commissions to paint David Ortiz [stats], Jonathan Papelbon [stats] and Josh Beckett [stats] followed, and Fox, who donates many of his pieces to local charities, became the go-to guy for sports paintings. And after having donated some paintings to Matt Light [stats]’s Light Foundation, he was approached to create the piece for Myra.

“Matt came to me around the end of November and said that the guys really wanted to do something special for Mr. Kraft this year ... and could I have it done by Christmas!”

Fox put all his other jobs on hold and finished the painting in time for the Christmas Eve game against the Miami Dolphins [team stats]. Light told him to bring the painting to the stadium, but if the team lost, they weren’t going to give it to the owner.

“The game went back and forth all night,” he recalled. “It went down to the last minute. I was waiting in the parking lot in my car. I had toys to put together for my kids at home, but they finally scooted me in and I got to be in the locker room when they presented it to Mr. Kraft. It was very special.”

Fox, whose paintings are now commissioned by superstar athletes and carried in galleries in Boston, New York, L.A. and Disney World, said this piece has a particular place in his heart.

“You hear all these things about athletes and owners and it’s all about the money, and then you see something like this,” he said. “You can see that the players really care about Mr. Kraft, and he really cares about these guys and it means a lot to see it. It’s great. It’s been just an incredible season.” 

File Under: Picture Perfect.