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Mudcat Grant and the Black Aces: Twelve New Paintings

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Jim "Mudcat" Grant passed away at 85 in June of this year. I remember him from the mid-1980s Cracker Jack old-timer's games at RFK Stadium in Washington, and he was an incredibly accomplished pitcher, mostly in the American League where, in 1965 as a Minnesota Twin, he became the first Black pitcher to win twenty games in a season. After the end of his playing career in 1971, he wrote The Black Aces, which profiled twelve Black pitchers who had likewise reached the twenty-game milestone.  Jim "Mudcat" Grant was the first Black pitcher to win 20 games in an American League season, and outspoken on matters of race more than fifty  years before Colin Kaepernick. The story that he profiles there and elsewhere is notable; he predated Colin Kaepernick in peacefully protesting the national anthem. In 1960 he sang "And this land is not so free, 'cause I can't even go to Mississippi" during the flag ceremony , which led to words with another player, his

New Directions: Bigger Than Cards

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It's been such a joy over the last six months to have created so many card paintings, and I still have lots of ideas about new ways to create new paintings from old cards. It's going to be a while before I get to the bottom of this well. This week, I spent some time reflecting on what led me to start making card paintings, which I wrote about in a guest post for SABR's Baseball Card Research Committee blog . I've also been thinking about some new directions to follow. One of them is to think creatively about the format of my paintings, and not limit myself to the size of a baseball card. I wanted to make some paintings that were larger in format, but still lent themselves to at least some of the proportions and conventions of baseball cards. The recent Josh Gibson art show and contest, with 75 card artists focused on elevating Josh Gibson and supporting renaming the MVP award for him, helped advance my thinking. In doing this, I wanted to bring in my experience in data

This Week's Voting Begins Today: Card Artists Raising Awareness about Josh Gibson and the MLB MVP Award!

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  My entry for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's Card Art Challenge honoring Josh Gibson. You can vote for your favorites at www.nlbmart.com , starting at 3 pm Easternon Friday, June 25th. When I started making card paintings last December, I had several motivations: to make manifest the link between baseball cards, one of the most visible forms of sports memorabilia that we have, and the art and design that make them possible; to create something new using old cards that I had stored away in shoeboxes; and to create during a time that creativity seemed in short supply.  The paintings grew out of some research that I started to do last summer, spurred initially by Topps's wonderful Project 2020 series of artistic interpretations of classic cards and a meeting that SABR's Baseball Cards Research Committee held. That first conversation with Jason Schwartz , Scott Hodges , Nick Vossbrink , and others opened by eyes about the possibilities of bringing new artistic dimensions

Father's Day 2021

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Happy Father's Day! For the occasion, I've created a new gallery containing paired card paintings of fathers and sons --and in the case of Helen Callaghan and Casey Candaele, mothers and sons. Father's Day for me is a complicated day for me. My own father and I have grown apart over the years, and my kids are at a stage when they don't want to have much to do with their dad any more as they do their own growing. It can be as much a day of feeling left out as one of feeling included. But on this day, I like to take stock of what it truly means to be a dad and how we do, knowingly and unknowlingly, pass things on to our children. I hope you enjoy the new gallery, and also the additions I've made to the Washington baseball gallery -- and that you're able to spend some good time with (or thinking about) your dad. Ken Griffey Sr.'s 1991 Upper Deck baseball card. This one resonates with be because it shows both warmth and wilfullness between the father and the s

Juneteenth 2021: Thoughts On The First National Observance

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On June 19th, 1865 -- two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and more than two months after the Confederacy's defeat by and surrender to the United States , two thousand U.S. troops marched into Galveston Texas -- in the westernmost state of the Confederacy -- and announced that the state's quarter million enslaved people were free. Two days ago -- June 17th, 2021, the day was recognized as the country's second Independence Day , when the banning of human ownership of other human beings was officially illegal throughout the land, and we became somewhat closer to the ideal that all people are created equal. I have mixed thoughts about this, and want to offer them up in the spirit of allyship, empathy, and appreciation of this country's mixed and unfinished historical legacy. The struggles for Black, brown, LGBT, and women, as our most recent years have shown us, are far from over. It's a good thing that Juneteenth is a recognized Federal holiday. Fo

Another Big Train

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Layered baseball card using Max Scherzer’s  most recent ToppsNOW offering After my three-dimensional Juan Soto card turned out nicely, I tried several other examples using Rickey Henderson's 1989 card, pitcher Frank Kreutzer's 1965 Topps card, and a hybrid of Pascual Perez's 1988 and 1989 Topps cards. (I still can't get enough of those vintage Expos uniforms. I always loved their caps with the tricolor construction and the "M" that always looked like the letters "elb" to me.) I'll post them later to the galleries, but it's the third card in this batch that really resonates for me. Max Scherzer, now in his fourteenth season and his seventh in Washington, may be the greatest pitcher to take the mound for the home side in the District of Columbia since Walter Johnson. (I say "may be" because the Homestead Grays never played teams in the White major leagues and we'll never know how those games would have ended up.) But I digress. G

Creative Process: Adding Dimensionality to Card Paintings

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There's a healthy and growing  card art community on Twitter, with an ever increasing number of artists doing all kinds of creative things with sports cards. I try to profile them occasionally on this blog and on my feed here, and I'm continually amazed by the diversity of forms and views that they create. Brushstrokes in Flight, 1984 (fabricated 2010) Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico Ray Bailey does some truly impressive things to add dimensionality to his cards (by that I mean creating a three-dimensional piece that involves elements cut from two different cards, with different colors and styles of paper backings, sometimes even using the wrappers from wax packs. It's an evocative style that brings to mind both card designs from yesteryear and the pop art styles of the 1960s and 1970s -- think of Roy Lichtenstein's massive outdoor sculptures that brought two-dimensional brush strokes to life in a three-dimensional space. The original ToppsNOW card. I wanted