In near-lifelike form, Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s faces appeared overnight on the side of El Toro Bravo market in Costa Mesa.
Orange County artist Tyke Witnes, a lifelong Lakers fan, said he had been planning since December to fill the wall at 739 W. 19th St. with a Lakers team portrait, including retired greats such as Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson.
But when the news broke Sunday that Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter “Gigi” and seven other people from Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, Witnes — a 44-year-old father of two girls — knew he had to change his plans.
Artist paints mural of Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Costa Mesa
“When this happened, it hit home,” Witnes said.
He began drawing a design on Monday and sketched it on a computer. Then, before midnight on Wednesday, he took to the streets with dozens of bottles of spray paint. For seven hours, he said, he worked at the wall, leaving just as dawn broke to help his daughters get ready for school. He returned Thursday evening to finish painting, spending a total of about 12 hours on the mural, he said.
Employees of the market did not comment Friday.
A fan poses in front of a mural honoring Kobe and Gianna Bryant on the side of El Toro Bravo market in Costa Mesa.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
The rigorous work contrasted with the confusion Witnes felt earlier in the week, he said. He knew he wanted to finish the mural by the time the Lakers played Friday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles — the team’s first game since Bryant’s death.
“[I’ve] just been out of sorts and I haven’t been able to focus on anything,” Witnes said.
He settled on using the Lakers’ font to spell out “Kobe” against the backdrop of a blue sky. The letter “O” is an orange basketball, and Gigi’s name is embedded in the letter “K.” Halos hover above the heads of the father and daughter in the shape of…