Loveland man's 225-foot painting to greet Pope Francis

KUSA - A 225-foot painting of Pope Francis is ready to greet the pontiff during his first trip to the Big Apple.

The man behind the giant mural is from Loveland, and calls the painting his greatest work so far.

Van Hecht-Nielsen gets inspiration from everything around him.

"Love of life, interest of life and all that it includes especially family and faith and always trying to portray some form of beauty," he said.

When he's not at home in Loveland, he travels to New York and Los Angeles as a self-proclaimed "Wall Dog" – someone who creates hand-painted advertisements on buildings.

His latest work soars 30 stories above Manhattan.

"There's me. I'm about 6 feet tall," Hecht-Nielsen said as he looked at a photo. "That cross that he's wearing is probably about 12 to 15 feet tall."

For 10 days, Hecht-Nielsen and his team painted Pope Francis to welcome him to the U.S. for the first time.

"I hope it blesses him and maybe he happens to take a picture with that in the background. I wish I could be there," the artist said.

The famous face alone took him 18 hours over two days.

"I don't think I will ever top this one," he said.

He will visit his work next month, but instead of enjoying the mural, he has to paint over it.

"It's really going to be sad to see this painting go and just go back to regular advertising," Hecht-Nielsen said.

He said his greatest work will be replaced by another ad.

"This one yeah, it's got a special place," he said.

He hopes to paint more religious figures in the future, but he doesn't think any will be as large as the New York mural.

The mural is near Madison Square Garden, where the pope will celebrate mass on Sept. 25. That means there's a good chance the pontiff will see the work in person.

(© 2015 KUSA)


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