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High school Santa Claus: Meet the man behind the murals

6:14 PM, Jan 17, 2013   |    comments
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If your eyes are on a high school basketball game in the Denver area, Izzy's eyes are probably on you.

"I've had students tell me they weren't able to do a free throw because I could see the eyes coming back at me," Milstead told 9NEWS.

His art work is all over local high schools. If you attend prep basketball games you've probably seen some of his larger than life murals painted on the gym walls. Now meet the man.

Israel "Izzy" Milstead has more than 100 murals in schools along the front range.

 Gyms, libraries, pools and even right on the court.

"Pretty much anything. Anything the school provides. If there's a blank wall, I'm there, Izzy does it," he said with a smile.

They take as little as eight hours, and as long as three days. He uses extremely tall ladders and even a scissor lift to get his paint to the top of the gym he is in.

Izzy is usually locked in on  Friday night, and by the time the weekend is over, he's left his mark.

"Sometimes I feel like Santa Claus," Milstead said, "I don't get to see Monday morning when they arrive and see a new mural."

His first mural was done in 1995 at his Alma mater, Lakewood. They've been popping up all over since then.

"My goal every time I do a painting is when that last highlight is in the eyes, you can walk from one side of the gym to the other side and the eyes will follow you," said Milstead.

But there's one place Izzy's eyes won't go, because believe it or not... 

"Just don't look down," he said laughing.

...Milstead is scared of heights.

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