ST PAUL, Minn. — The steely gaze and cool reserve of Vikings head coach Bud Grant are legendary, part of the persona that cemented him a place in Minnesota history.
But a portrait that now hangs in the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul captures a different side of Grant, who holds a special place in the hearts of many for leading the Vikings to four Super Bowls, and serving as the face of the frozen north.
Artist Mark Balma had several sittings with the coach a number of years ago while creating the oil painting, and says he saw Grant both then and now as "a statesman of the sports field." The work shows a softer, thoughtful side of the Pro Football Hall of Famer, now 94, sitting back in a chair dressed in his ever-present comfortable and outdoorsy gear.
Balma grew up in New Hope and is internationally renowned for his oil and fresco works. He says Grant donated the portrait to the Minnesota History Center in honor of the artist's father, who was a huge Vikings fan.
Museum Director and CEO Kent Whitworth graciously accepted the work, which will soon have a place on a wall at the Minnesota History Center, during a brief ceremony Wednesday.