An art teacher at a Gary school doesn't like to paint on traditional canvasses, so he paints on boxing gloves, which has proven to be a huge hit.
Longtime boxing enthusiast Chris Guzman, who teaches at the Glen Park Academy of Excellence in Learning and is the official artist of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in New York, has been painting boxers like Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao on boxing gloves for a decade. He's probably the only artist in America who paints celebrities like George Lucas, Magic Johnson and Dan Aykroyd on boxing gloves, which he then gets them to autograph.
"Around seven years ago, a friend of mine told me Harrison Ford was coming to town for a movie premiere and that I should paint him on a boxing glove," he said. "I said, 'That's stupid. It doesn’t make sense. He's never even been in a boxing movie. It wouldn’t mean anything.' He said, 'That’s exactly why it would be cool.'"
So Guzman painted Indiana Jones on a boxing glove, and handed it to Ford on the red carpet. He signed it, and chatted with Guzman for a few minutes.
“He said, 'That's weird,'” Guzman said. "I said, 'I know.'"
Since then Guzman has tracked down celebrities such as Fonzie actor Henry Winkler for the project. It's now a company called Guzman Gloves: A Totally Hands-On LLC. He also does a wide array of customized gloves, which sell well overseas in countries like England, where there's still a lot more enthusiasm about boxing.
"Everyone has a grandfather who boxed in the Army or something," he said. "Once people awaken to the idea, they realize the possibilities are endless."
Guzman, a Crown Point resident, has shown his work at local galleries and recently showcased it at the NWI Comic-Con in Schererville.
Lately, he's also gotten into painting directly onto vintage magazine covers, such as by putting the actor Dolph Lungren and the professional wrestler Nikolai Volkoff onto a copy of Soviet Life from the early 1980s.
"I can only paint on a canvass maybe two or three times a year," he said. "These magazines would otherwise be thrown away. They’d get bent or rolled up, stuffed into a drawer and then thrown away. I’m adding value. I’ll keep doing it as long as there’s demand."