Author: Frank Dunne, Jr.
Writing for magazines is a weird gig. Sometimes I wonder if the folks at Starbucks, the occasional letter writer calling me an a-hole, and my mom are the only ones who read my stuff. I guess as long as the checks keep showing up in my mailbox I shouldn’t be concerned with such things, but it’s still nice to know my work actually connects with people. You know, in a way other than ticking them off…although I do rather enjoy that.
Anyway, the other thing did happen recently. A lady named Kelly Walker from Virginia had read the April edition of A Line in the Sand when Courtney Hampson and I argued over which is the best old ballpark, Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Here’s what Walker had to say…
I just read your article, Line in the Sand, in CH2 while we were in Hilton Head
last weekend. Loved your choice of park. Wrigley Field is the best of the
30 major league ballparks! And I’ve been to a bunch of them. Because you
obviously like baseball, I am writing to tell you about a project I am working on
involving all the parks. I’m a painter, and am currently trying to paint all
30 fields in 30 weeks and have the show during the World Series this year.
I hope you will take a look at my project and maybe pledge to help me get to my
goal. I don’t think anyone has ever done this so I am excited about it.
Please take a look
At first I thought she meant that she was going to travel to every ballpark over the course of the season. How cool would that be? Turns out that’s not the case, but I liked the idea anyway, so I gave Walker a call. We talked about the project, baseball, dogs, but mostly about the project.
It’s called “Painted Diamonds—30 Ball Parks in 30 Weeks.” Thirty weeks because that’s how many weeks are in the Major League Baseball season. Walker is creating a painting of each park, a few that she’ll visit in person, but is working from photos for most of them. The whole thing will be documented and published in a catalog that will contain facts about the stadiums and a photo journal of her painting process.
“I like to paint series of paintings, and I haven’t done a series in about a year and a half,” she said. “I was trying to find something that would be a challenge.”
Another interesting factoid about Walker’s project is the means by which she raised the funding. There’s a relatively new social media community called Kickstarter (www.Kickstarter.com) where painters, writers, filmmakers, musicians—all kinds of creative folks—can post a project and the amount of money that they need to raise. People visit the site, look for projects that interest them and pledge donations in any amount they choose, even as little as a dollar. Project creators offer rewards to their backers as an incentive and a thank you. Walker’s backers get prints, postcards or original paintings from her Painted Diamonds work.
The kicker (pun intended) is that funding is an all-or-nothing proposition. A project has to reach its budget goal within a specified time window or the money pledged is taken off the table. My hope was to publish this article to help Walker promote the project and raise some donations, but her budget deadline was ahead of press time. The good news for Walker, though, is that she exceeded her goal by over $900 in plenty of time.
Why baseball? Well, like I said in April’s Sand column, baseball is just that kind of game. You can write songs about it. You can make movies about it. You can write stories about it. And the places where they play the game possess the kinds of qualities, both visual and emotional, that get artists’ creative juices going. Think about it, when you watch a baseball movie the field or the stadium isn’t just a setting; it’s a character.
“I’d actually been looking into putting together a Kickstarter project of paintings of all of the state parks in Virginia, where I live,” Kelly said. “So I was going to travel around to each state park and do the paintings on site. I was working on that project when baseball season started and I got to thinking, I don’t know if it’s ever been done where one artist painted every ballpark. I tried to find that out, and it looked like nobody had ever done it. And then I thought, ‘There are 30 Major League fields and the season lasts 30 weeks.’ Well, that made a good tie-in, so why not?”
Being a baseball fan might have something to do with it too. Having grown up in Georgia, Walker is a lifelong Braves fan (I’ll forgive her that). She put it this way on her Kickstarter page: “It started when I was a kid and my parents took me to ball games and I have never been able to shake it. When I go to a game, it is like a spiritual experience—each ballpark a unique church.”
As of this writing, Walker has completed Nationals Park (Washington, D.C.), Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore), Fenway Park (Boston), PNC Field (Pittsburgh), Target Field (Minnesota), Rangers Park (Arlington, Texas), Wrigley Field (Chicago), and was in progress with AT&T Field (San Francisco). Eight down, 22 to go.
Painted Diamonds will wrap up with an exhibition at the Blue Ridge Arts Council in Front Royal, Virginia during the World Series. The menu for the opening reception? Why it’s hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack of course!
Check out Painted Diamonds at LifeOfaDailyPainter.com.