Artist’s mural depicts just some of LSU’s many legends

Too many is a lot better than enough.

Because enough is just that — enough names to fill the void. And Charles Barbier had the problem of having too many from which to choose to fill that void.

This is a good problem to have. The LSU football program likely would agree.

New players take the field each year, and many of them become legends. LSU has a lot of them, and Barbier had to choose exactly which legends to highlight to fill a bare wall in the Pastime Restaurant’s dining room.

What a great problem to have. A fun one, too, because most patrons never really noticed the void until it was no longer there.

Restaurant owner Randy Wesley didn’t really notice it either.

That is, until he spotted Barbier painting LSU football players in a nearby parking lot. That’s a story in itself.

Barbier has started a new tradition with the players in the parking lot. Each represents a current LSU player who has done well during the week. If a certain player doesn’t do well in the next game, but another does, the number is changed on the jersey to represent the player who shone.

Barbier doesn’t say if he’ll carry this tradition through to the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31. That’s when the LSU Tigers face the Tigers of Clemson University.

Surely that game will produce some amazing plays by LSU players to join others in Tiger history, a history Barbier referenced when developing his mural.

It’s filled the dining room wall since the beginning of the season and will serve as a backdrop when customers fill the room to watch the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

That was the idea when Wesley checked out Barbier’s work, then commissioned the artist to fill the void in the dining room.

Those familiar with Barbier’s work immediately will recognize his style, especially in his murals. Barbier usually grounds the scene with a large panel in the center and frames it with small panels along the sides.

Each of the small panels tells its own story, which contributes to the bigger story in the center.

This is how Barbier mapped out his mural commemorating Ryan Field at BREC’s Greenwood Community Park near Baker. He may use the same format when he creates a mural for the BR Walls Project later in 2013.

And it’s what he’s done at the Pastime.

Billy Cannon is the main character here, clutching a football and using alligators as stepping stones while heading for a goal line in the Louisiana swamp. Running behind him on either side are LSU legends Jimmy Taylor and Jerry Stovall.

Now, Cannon wasn’t running through a swamp when he made his iconic run against Ole Miss on Halloween night in 1959, but Barbier wanted his mural to commemorate Louisiana as much as its flagship university’s football team.

“I wanted it to be distinctly Louisiana,” Barbier said. “And I wanted to include current players, as well as past players.”

This is why Tyrann Mathieu can be seen running through the swamp in the distance, the tag “Honey Badger” beneath his likeness.

“Even though he’s off the team now, he did do some amazing things to help get the Tigers to the national championship game last year,” Barbier said. “It was only right to include him.”

Then came the problem. Who to include in the side panels and who to leave out? Wesley suggested a couple of Tiger legends who are still customers in the restaurant, All-American linebacker Warren Capone being one, quarterback Bert Jones being another.

“Charles took about a week to paint the mural,” Wesley said. “He’d come in and look at the wall and start on one part, and we would try to guess what he was going to paint next. It was great to see it all come together, and a lot of customers still come in and look at it and comment on how they notice something different each time they look at it.”

Other featured players are running back Dalton Hilliard, defensive end Sam Montgomery, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and late offensive lineman Eric Andolsek.

“I had a class with Eric when I was at LSU,” Barbier said. “He was a great guy. And I realized that we needed someone to represent the offensive line in the mural, and I thought Eric would be good.”

Barbier is right. Andolsek is a good representative. All of the players chosen for his mural are.

And if Barbier hadn’t decided on this particular group of LSU legends, other representatives could have been featured.

All this to say that LSU has plenty of football legends from which to choose, and any of them rightly could have represented the program.

Too many definitely is a good problem to have.