Artist Gary Muzechuk's plans for the future include more paintings paying homage to the past of his alma mater, Ohio State University.

Artist Gary Muzechuk's plans for the future include more paintings paying homage to the past of his alma mater, Ohio State University.

Where he studied business and marketing.

Muzechuk, whose nickname is Muze, did not let the muse descend upon him as an artist until after a six-year career in the corporate world with Ashland Inc., a chemical company with headquarters in Covington, Ky.

In that regard, Muzechuk was initially following in the footsteps of his father, who worked in marketing and purchasing for General Motors in the Dayton area.

It was in 1996 that Muzechuk, who had taken some classes at the San Francisco Art Academy, decided to look to the previous generation for his calling; his Ukrainian-born grandfather, Alex Muzechuk, had been a corporate artist for GM.

"My parents were supportive of my art as a child," Muzechuk recalled.

Although he travels around the country a good deal, managing art galleries and serving as a spokesman at an auto show for the Ford Motor Co. (dad's OK with that, but still drives a Cadillac) during his most recent stay in Columbus to promote his most recent OSU-licensed painting, Muzechuk made his home in Clintonville.

A 1986 graduate of Centerville High School, Muzechuk joined the corporate world in 1990 after earning his degree at Ohio State. His first six years with Ashland Chemical were in Corona Del Mar, Calif., followed by three years in San Francisco.

All that time, Muzechuk said during a recent interview, he was putting money aside with the idea of chucking the business world to pursue a career as an artist. He finally made the break in 1996, setting off for a backpacking sojourn through Central and South America with his cousin and painting coach Richard Muzechuk, who was a much more experienced artist.

Gary Muzechuk continued studying art upon returning to the United States, including at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Muzechuk set up his first studio in Chicago where, at the urging of a friend, he embarked on a large oil painting that became the first entry in his ongoing "Carmen Ohio," series. He said that Ohio State University "is a subject matter very close to my heart and definitely a labor of love."

Based on some pencil drawings the artist did back in Corona Del Mar, the painting depicts legendary Buckeyes football coach Woody Hayes prowling the sidelines on Nov. 18, 1978, in what would turn out to be his last victory, 21-18 on the road against Indiana.

After completing the work he titled "Seasons Pass" from a line in the OSU school song, Muzechuk worked through the university's Office of Trademark and Licensing to become officially certified, with OSU receiving a portion of sales from his series.

"It was a process that was very nerve-wracking at the time and very exciting when I got approved," Muzechuk recalled.

The second work in the series, which was painted when Muzechuk was living in Palm Beach, Fla., is titled "Ohio's Praise." It depicts Ohio Stadium on the day of its dedication, Oct. 21, 1922. Muzechuk said he immersed himself in research, including a packet of information provided by OSU assistant athletic director for facilities management Donald Patko, prior to embarking on the work, which took three tries before he was satisfied.

In the end, instead of using scarlet and gray tones as he did with the Hayes painting, Muzechuk said that he decided to make "Ohio's Praise" with a more sepia look to give it an antique feel.

Muzechuk finished the second painting in the "Carmen Ohio" series in late August. He's donated some of the limited edition prints of the painting to Ohio State, including one that hangs in the lounge at the Roger D. Blackwell Inn on the Fisher College of Business campus, harking back to his student days.

Muzechuk will be hanging on to the original of "Ohio's Praise" for the time being until he can get it appraised. He said that "Seasons Pass" was valued at $15,000 to $20,000 during an earlier appraisal.

The entire series of paintings will eventually encompass four, possibly five works. "Heart's Rebounding Thrill" will deal with the OSU-Michigan rivalry while "Ohio" will depict the marching band's famous dotting of the "i." More information can be found at muzegallery.com.