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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Paintin' 'Em Out Of The Ballpark

By Jen Thomas
12:01AM / Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Joanne Murray and her winning Art of the Game artwork titled "S-s-safe!" [Photo by Jen Thomas]
Pittsfield – When Joanne Murray used a picture of her son from his days as a Little League baseball player as inspiration for a painting for a visual arts class at the Berkshire Community College, she didn’t think the painting would find a public audience.

“I painted it for him last year, and it’s not my usual style,” Murray said yesterday morning during the Art of the Game’s juried billboard art show.“It’s thrilling to have that chosen."

Murray’s tribute to her son is among the 12 artworks selected for public display on billboards, at North Street storefronts, and at the Lichenstein Center for the Arts through the upcoming four months.

The "Art of the Game" challenge drew 98 entries from acorss the country. Included in the winning dozen are renderings from artists who live in the Berkshires and from as far away as Georgia. Additionally, baseball cards with the images on them will be distributed throughout Berkshire County this summer.


North Adams artist Jennifer Mulcahy's winning artwork titled "Roots Of Confidence." [Photo by Jen Thomas]
“The basic theme of the contest was anything to do with baseball,” said Mary Rentz, the chairperson of Art of the Game,a city-based public arts program described as an initiative“that creatively celebrates the city’s singular role in baseball history.”

“It’s about a love of the game and the love of teamwork,” she said.

LSB: "Lucy In The Sky With Baseballs"

The artwork to be higlighted ranged from surrealist images to vintage animation to a mix of photography and graphics.

“These are exciting images,” said Rentz. “They’re out of the ballpark.”

Pittsfield native Michael Rousseau’s painting titled “Spin” caught the most attention with his optical illusion-style baseball swirls.

“I like to call it ‘Lucy in the Sky with Baseballs,’” said Megan Whilden, the city’s director of cultural development.

“I’m definitely excited to see everything up,” said Rousseau, who was also involved with the Art of the Game committee. “This is the first time we get to see the stuff we’ve been planning.”

A submission titled “Start of the Game” by Barney Edmonds of Lenox was dubbed as “the conceptual one.”

Christine Dupre's "America's Game" was selected as part of a city-wide exhibition. [Photo by Jen Thomas]


“It asks ‘what are the elements of the game?’” Rentz said.“It’s an entirely different way to look at it.”

Edmonds’ piece focused on the necessary components of baseball. He reduces the baseball glove to the word ‘cow,’ for example, because the leather used to produce it comes from cows. Other associations are ‘ash’ for bat, ‘chalk’ for the lines on the field, ‘lexan’ for batting helmets, ‘rubber’ for home plate, and ‘horse’ for the ball.

With “Uplifting Baseball in the Berkshires,” graphic artist Lisa Jeanne Graf of Boston had some fun with history and artistically noted that the city’s two baseball fields were also used as hot-air balloon centers in the 1900s. Her work featured hot-air balloons shaped as baseballs taking flight over a peaceful mountain landscape.

Additional winning artists are Susan Cart Treat of South Lee, Jennifer Mulcahy of North Adams, Christine Dupre of Dalton, Micheal McKay of Canaan, N.Y., Tina Riedel of Medford, Bob Rubin of Cherry Plain, N.Y., June Bisantz of Willimantic, Conn., and Tim Williams of Cumming, Ga.

Local Students Get Involved


"In The Clouds" will be included during the city's summer art exhibit. The artist is Tina Riedel. [Photo by Jen Thomas]
Berkshire region students were also encouraged to enter artwork to the billboard contest. One winner from elementary, middle, and high schools were chosen and their work will be on display along with the 12 contest winners.

Public school students who submitted selected artwork are Laura Carchedi, a Pittsfield High School senior, Lauren Dewey, a Reid Middle School eighth-grade student, and elementary school student Noah Depew of the Crosby School.

An additional fifteen student art submissions were selected to become baseball cards, and all three hundred plus entries will be displayed on storefront windows until June 15, 2007.

A commemorative billboard will display artwork that represents the Pittsfield Elms, the city’s vintage baseball team. Though only 12 are open to be viewed by the public at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Rousseau hoped all 16 works would make it in the gallery by the end of the week.

“These are all fabulous images,” said Rentz. “Anyone who loves baseball can feel at home when these billboards go up.”

During the "Art of the Game" 2006 debut, an outdoor exhibiton of over-sized, orginally-designed baseball gloves punctuated city streets and shop windows. Additional events planned for the 2007 continuation of the popular event includes a July 14 "human baseball" event at the Wahconah Ballpark and the autumn installation of two art sculptures purchased by the Art of the Game committee as gifts to the city.

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is located at 28 Renne Ave.. The winning billboard pieces will be on display in dozens of location in Berkshire County throughout the summer and large vinyl displays will remain at the gallery through October.

For more information on the Art of the Game project, visit their website at www.artgamepittsfield.org.

Jen Thomas is a senior at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and plans to graduate during a May 12 commencement ceremony. She has accepted a post-graduation position as a www.iberkshires.com full-time journalist.
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