“I love art. I live art,” said Paul Mullally, class of 1971, from his studio in Seattle.
With backpack, paint, canvas, and his art degree in hand, Mullally travelled throughout the world after college. He cultivated his art outside the classroom, painting portraits, street scenes, and landscapes. He made friends everywhere along the way. Last summer, his “Alaska Bound – Triumph of the Spirit” was shown at a special fine arts exhibition at the Olympics in London. Today, it is part of a permanent collection of art from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics soon to be installed in a new museum in Beijing. It didn’t come easy.
Mullally enrolled in Seattle University three times. In between, he attended flight school in Florida and joined an Army reserve unit. Inspired by Fine Arts Professors Marvin Herard, Val Laigo, and Nick Damascus, he majored in art, and within two years of graduation he was off to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, painting people and places at every stop.
“I soon realized that I needed to improve my technical skills,” he said about deciding to enroll in New York’s Art Students League. “Painting 6 days a week for 6 hours a day changed my life, and I learned to paint the way I wanted to.”
Mullally has never stopped painting, travelling, and making friends. By 2012, he had become internationally recognized for his representational art. Although he has received numerous awards and commissions, including one for a portrait by the Senior Queen of Bhutan, being invited to participate in the London Olympics art exhibit was an incomparable honor.
In 2008, the Cultural Ministry of China hosted an international arts event for the Beijing summer games. Seeking to build on that event, the ministry planned an exhibit at the 2012 Olympics. A suggestion from his friend, Chinese artist Huihan Liu, led Mullally to submit his art for consideration for the London exhibition. When the Cultural Ministry invited him to participate, Mullally chose “Alaska Bound – Triumph of Spirit.” The painting depicts the fishing fleet at Fishermen’s Terminal on Seattle’s waterfront.
"To me, fishing in the Arctic expresses what it means to have unity of spirit in pursuit of a common goal," he said, “and that is what the Olympics are about.”
The International Olympic Arts Event at the Museum of London opened in August 2012. The exhibition was staged in five galleries, the largest exhibit Mullally had ever participated in. Organizers had brought together 150 artists from throughout the world; Mullally was one of only five American artists represented.
Mullally paints almost every day in his studio which is filled with mementos from his travels, his artwork, photographs, and the most recent addition, his Olympic medal.