Now, a famous muralist, Jonas Never wanted to be a professional baseball player when he was younger.
As a youth he played on the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association’s Dodgers.
He attended Santa Monica High School, still pitching, even facing Palisades High School.
Never was good, and went to a Division I college, the University of Riverside. It was there he started painting.
“The school was on a quarter system,” he said. “And it was easier to paint, and take art courses, while playing baseball.”
His dreams of playing in the major leagues came to an end after he tore his rotator cuff, labrum and bicep tendon.
Never turned fulltime to art and supported himself by bartending in local bars.
He came to prominence in 2015, when he did a mural of Stuart Scott ESPN sportscaster, who had died at the age of 49.
In an interview with Medill Reports Chicago, Never said, “I had spent so much of my life bartending too, that every night you would see SportsCenter come on, and Stuart Scott made a big impact on me. When I did [the mural], it was really cool to see the sports world come together, and his daughters flew out from Canada to see the wall. I realized that there was something powerful about doing sports murals.”
Since then, he’s painted LA sports figures that include golf, basketball, NASCAR, football, LAFC and baseball.
Never has become famous for his incorporation of pop culture, celebrities and athletes in his work, which includes LeBron James, Ronda Rousey and Kobe Bryant.
His art has reached millions through social media (@never1959 has more than 120K combined IG and Twitter followers) and he has been featured in countless magazine/newspaper stories.
He also does historical murals. Most Palisades residents have seen “Touch of Venice” at Windward Avenue, which is Never’s homage to the history of Venice, culture and a great film by Orson Welles.
The artist created the 102-foot-by-50-foot adaptation of Welles’ 1958 film, Touch of Evil.
The famous scene was shot along Windward and Pacific Avenues with Venice doubling as a Mexican border town in the film about drug cartels, corrupt cops and interracial marriage.
More recently, “I’ve also begun a series of canvases featuring old LA in a modernized film noir style inspired by my big Touch of Venice piece, LA history and noir shows and movies that I religiously watch,” Rivers said in an email to CTN.
Never murals can also be found across the country. Last June in Syracuse, New York, Nevers painted a six-story mural that features that town’s most celebrated basketball stars: Earl Lloyd Jr., Dolph Schayes, Manny Breland and Breanna Stewart.
He’s also painted former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room in 2019. Never and Skaggs had worn the same jersey number in high school. Skagg’s mother had coached softball at SaMo when Never was there.
“It was right around the time that I was debating not doing memorial murals anymore,” Rivers said. “I didn’t like the sadness, but then I realized how powerful they were, and I realized he [Skaggs] probably wouldn’t get one from anyone else. It was a positive thing to keep his memory alive, kind of where we all grew up.”
Palisades residents and pro-ball players, Scott and Tyler Heineman (and Max Fried, Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito and a handful of other Major League Baseball players) donated to cover the paint and material expenses for the Skaggs’ mural.
Heinemans’ dad, Steve, who used to work for the Santa Monica Police Department, helped so that “I could “park right in front of the wall – and kept us stocked with Bay Cities and Gilbert’s El Indio,” Never said.
CTN found Never at the Genesis Tournament at the Riviera in February.
Golf patrons were told that 14th Hole was an optimal vantage point at the Genesis Invitational Golf Tournament and a site for a café that served Korean snacks and complimentary coffee.
But, the biggest draw was Never and a complimentary tournament poster.
Never has worked closely with the Genesis Invitational since 2019 – creating inspiring depictions, including those of Tiger Woods.
“I’ve been coming to the Riviera my whole life, so it’s great to be here,” Never said.
“I’m about to begin a giant wall in Koreatown for the LA Lakers 75th anniversary,” the artist said. “I will be doing a Dodgers’ wall not far from the stadium before opening day.
“I want to get a handful of paintings done for my buddies who pitch for the Dodgers,” said Nevers, who has started painting large canvases for sports teams and events, and also for television shows, such as The Last of Us, Wednesday and Ted Lasso.
Nevers was asked if he has any regrets about not playing professional baseball.
“I don’t regret my shoulder ending my baseball career,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason and luckily when one door closed (baseball) one door reopened (art).
“As a bonus, my artwork has continued and even enhanced my relationship with sports and has kept me connected to sports much longer than I ever could’ve imagined,” Nevers said.