"Wood vs. Composite Gear Debate"
Al 'The Greek' Greko
Greko's unusual style reveals his early exposure to classic religious paintings as a junior monk at the famous Mount Athos monastery in northeastern Greece. As a young man he chafed against the harsh monastic rules and managed to escape by cleverly disguising himself as an Canadian tourist and slipping out with the package tour group at the end of the day.
His skills were in high demand, as magazines were at the time entering an illustration renaissance where oil painting was preferred over photography, regardless of what it did to deadlines. The young artist was hired on by the prestigious Ski Bum magazine, and began a career moving from resort to resort, following the jet setters and the sports aficionados across Europe, Canada and the USA.
This painting, which was used as the cover of the November, 1997, issue of Ski Bum, shows two of the sport's glitterati, Sweden's Bjorn Bjofftrak and Italy's Pier Alberto Careenii engaged in one of their perennial discussions over the relative merits of alpine gear, the traditionalist pitted against the technologist.
Greko's cushy career came to an abrupt and unexpected end a few days after the painting was completed. Bjofftrak, competing in the Transylvania World Cup at Poiana Brasov, Romania, lost one of his custom oak skis during a high-speed tumble. The ski arced into the judges' box, where it pierced the chest of Vlad Enescu, one of the sport's oldest and most revered patrons. To the astonishment of all, Enescu's body crumbled to dust as soon as the heart was pierced, ending long-standing rumors and resolving the mysterious disappearances of Romanian youths over the past 300 years.
Greko, who had been sketching the event in the seat next to Enescu, was so shaken that he swore to never again attend a major sporting event, contenting himself with recreational skiing in the company of old friends like Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy. After the events of January, 1998, he was declared irrecoverably mad with acute skiphobia and is presently a resident of Arkham Asylum in Massachusetts.