WINTER OLYMPICS Artist with Valley roots branches out

The Olympics stage designer also helped to create an entire Star Trek Enterprise replica in Las Vegas.
STRUTHERS -- John Mogulich is known as "Mog" to his friends.
You may not know the 27-year-old, but you may be among the 30 million-or-so people who are seeing his work during the 2002 Winter Olympics each night.
Mogulich helped craft the giant red, yellow and blue snowflake-like symbol that is the centerpiece of the awards ceremony stage.
Not bad for the 1992 graduate of Struthers High School who found his artistic roots toying with Legos and Star Wars action figures as a kid.
"I'm just beaming with pride for him," said his mother, Jackie Mraz, of Hubbard.
Mogulich, who now lives in Las Vegas where he works for the design group Entolo, was responsible for painting the structure. He's also added his artistic touch to the Terminator II show in Hollywood and Japan, has done stage work for Wayne Newton and Tina Turner, and has painted numerous casino attractions.
Locally, he designed the Struthers Wildcat logo.
But his beginnings were humble.
Lessons: He started, as a child, with years of private lessons from local mentor Cheri Mohn. He eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1996.
"He really, ultimately, wanted to work for George Lucas," said his mother. "They told him he didn't have enough experience."
To this day, Mogulich is undaunted by the response from Lucas' California-based business, Industrial Light and Magic.
"I would pick up and be there the next day if there was an opening," he said.
Search for opportunities: Unhappy with work opportunities here, Mogulich moved to Las Vegas in 1997 to live with friends. His first job there was to help re-create the Starship Enterprise as part of the Las Vegas Hilton Star Trek Experience.
Mogulich just considers himself lucky to be an art college graduate working in an art field.
"There were 35 people in my [graduating] class," he said. "Maybe a handful of them are doing something with their degree."
Plans: In the future Mogulich would like to open his own business doing residential work with a friend. He said he'd also like to add a faux-finish to the interior of his own home.
"I'm just beaming with pride for him," said Mraz.
His work has come at a cost.
He almost lost his left index finger after he accidentally injected green paint into it with a paint gun.
It took four operations to repair the finger, Mraz said, except it's still green -- which is why Mogulich's friends also call him "Frankenfinger."

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