FEBRUARY 24 UPDATE: We did it! Watch the unveiling of Trip’s official portrait.
In 2001, Butler University Interim President Gwen Fountain decided to hold the school’s first live bulldog mascot, Butler Blue I, as she posed for her presidential portrait that now hangs in Atherton Union.
That was the start of a tradition. When Butler Blue II retired in 2013, his handler, Michael Kaltenmark, contacted local artist James Kelly of Mad Lab Studios to create a painting of the bulldog that resides in Robertson Hall.
Now it’s Blue III’s turn. Better known as ‘Trip,’ Butler’s third live mascot retired in the spring of 2020, and his official portrait has been painted by Anthony J. Padgett of Red Truck Productions. The Live Mascot Program just needs to raise $5,000 during Butler’s 2021 Day of Giving on February 24–25 for the painting—which currently hangs under a curtain in Robertson Hall—to be unveiled.
Leading up to the fundraising challenge, we touched base with Trip’s dad to learn more.
How would you describe the purpose of creating the mascot portraits?
Michael Kaltenmark: Just as is the case for our University Presidents, these official portraits of our live mascots both honor their service to Butler and preserve their likeness on canvas for the campus community to enjoy for generations to come.
How did you choose Anthony J. Padgett to be the artist for Trip’s painting?
MK: It was a case of Anthony choosing us! Anthony’s business partner in Red Truck Productions is Neal Stock, who has Butler ties. Knowing our history of capturing our live English bulldog mascots in oils and acrylics, Neal pursued the opportunity to have Anthony produce this piece. I was glad he did. Anthony’s work speaks for itself, and I was honored that he wanted to focus his talents on Trip. The fact that he’s local to the Indianapolis area, and that he wanted to pursue this project at a steep discount, made the partnership even better. I couldn’t be happier with how this all worked out.
What does the process of creating the portrait look like?
MK: Anthony and Neal came to campus to shoot some photography of Trip, as well as various landscapes for potential backgrounds. They also referenced photos we already had. After giving them some input, we left the creative vision to Anthony, and we didn’t see the portrait until it was nearly finished.
Why do you have a fundraising goal of $5,000 for this project?
MK: That covers everything, including the commission fee, materials, framing, etc. An original work of this size and scope would typically cost much more, but Anthony and Neal wanted to do this at a discount for Butler’s sake. Now we are inviting the Butler community and our fans to help us cover the cost. When they come to campus to see Trip’s portrait, they can take some satisfaction in knowing that they helped make it happen.
How can Butler community members watch the portrait unveiling?
MK: Under normal circumstances, we’d hold an unveiling event with Trip in attendance, much like we did with Blue II back in 2013. But given the health and safety protocols related to the pandemic, this unveiling will be all virtual. And if we meet our fundraising goal on Butler’s Day of Giving, we’ll do the unveiling live via social media that day!
To support this initiative and help us unveil Trip’s official portrait, you can make a gift to Butler’s Live Mascot program on February 24–25. To see other available Day of Giving challenges, click here.
Some call it giving back. We call it the Butler Way.
On Butler’s 6th annual Day of Giving, we invite you to join us in celebrating the best of Butler by making a gift to support the areas of your choice. Our goal is to reach 1,500 gifts across the Butler community before 12:55 PM on February 25. Hitting our goal will unlock $50,000 in student scholarship support. Day of Giving is special because it brings together Bulldogs near and far to achieve a shared goal: putting a Butler education within reach of all who desire to pursue it. There’s strength in numbers, and your gift—of any size—will make a difference for Butler students. Thank you for supporting Butler University!
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