Pacers

Pacers Mural Artist Worked on Oscar-Nominated Film

by Greg Rappaport
Pacers.com Writer
@Greg_Rappaport

If you've ever strolled through the IMS Pavillion on the main concourse of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, you've probably stopped to admire the mural that's painted on the wall near the escalators. The mural pays homage to Pacers greats like Reggie Miller, George McGinnis, Mel Daniels, Roger Brown and more.

But what most admirers of the piece may not know is that the artist, Indianapolis native Pamela Bliss, is currently in Los Angeles hoping a movie that she contributed to wins an Oscar at the Academy Awards.

Bliss — whose murals can be found in a number of locations around Indianapolis — joined a team of artists to work on the feature film "Loving Vincent" which is considered to be the first-ever fully painted feature film. The movie focuses on the time after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, and is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.

While creating the film, Bliss lived in Poland and worked alongside 125 painters that were all trained in Van Gogh's distinctive style of oil painting. The artists combined to create 65,000 frames which made up the movie, a never-seen-before style of filmmaking that earned it the Oscar nod.

"We have definitely without a doubt invented the slowest form of filmmaking ever devised in 120 years," joked Hugh Welchman, who directed the film with Dorota Kobiela.

After seeing a preview for the film that featured a call to artists, asking for help on finishing the project, Bliss submitted an application to work on the movie and was chosen to be one of the painters on the project.

For Bliss, the work on "Loving Vincent" was a departure from some of her usual work, such as the Kurt Vonnegut mural on Mass Ave or the jazz musician mural on Capitol.

"I learned how to be a little bit looser and freer," Bliss said of her artistic style. "It took some time. But now I would like to do a little more impressionistic work in the future"

When Bliss was first tapped to do the Pacers legends mural in the IMS Pavillion in the 1990s, she went into it knowing it would be a multiyear project. When she started, Reggie Miller was still active, meaning she would not be able to place him on the mural. Once Miller announced his retirement, Bliss was able to complete her work, adding Miller into the mural.

Bliss is no stranger to projects taking years. "Loving Vincent" took six years to make from start to finish.

With the Academy Awards on Sunday night, Bliss is crossing her fingers that "Loving Vincent" can pull the upset and win the award for Best Animated Film.

"I would be a dream come true for me," Bliss said. "I'm just a tiny part of the film, but we are kind of part of the 'Loving Vincent' family."

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