Lately, we are greatly inspired here at Sports Art International. What we’ve come to know as true for our many artists’ and contributors, is that the creative flow comes from that initial spark of inspiration. It could have been long ago as a child or it could have even come a little later in life. Whatever the case, the beauty behind a work of art can change someone’s life forever.
For sports writer, educator and historical commentator, Allen Guttmann, that gnawing, creative bug bit an early age. Bruce Berglund, author of newbooksinsports.com, quotes Guttmann on his experience: “When I was a kid, I used to pore over an illustrated history of American sports that I had received as a birthday gift. The oversized, hardcover book featured some of the iconic images of 20th-century sports: Lou Gehrig standing humbly at home plate on his day of tribute, teammates present and past encircling him …”
This book was Guttmann’s first experience with not just art, but the powerful energy behind sports art. “The image in the book that most captivated me was not a photograph,” recalls Guttmann. “Instead, it was a painting: George Bellows’ 1924 oil of Luis Firpo knocking Jack Dempsey through the ropes in the first round of their fight at the Polo Grounds. I remember studying the colors, the scramble in the ringside seats, and the passive expression of Firpo as he follows through his punch. The painting remains for me an example of how art can capture the drama, the sounds, and the power of a sporting moment.” Such an emotional response led Guttmann to a career chasing down the history and cultural aspects of this ‘love for sports.’
We have a plethora of artists on our website that would probably provide a very similar version of Guttmann’s story while they too seek to pass that inspiration along to their viewers. Pastel painter, Daggi Wallace of Sports Art International, loves painting surfers in their natural habitat. She describes the inspiration behind her paintings: “The surfers’ twisted, angular bodies juxtaposed against the flowing, moving waves create a natural abstract design that is pure joy to observe. Spending many hours on the beaches of California and Hawaii photographing the surfers becomes a kind of meditation, a spirituality I hope to pass along.”
Through Wallace’s observations on her own work, it becomes clear that art is inspiration handed down. It’s a cycle of high creative energy in art sports art that really has no logical reasoning. It’s based in a very emotional response that is first inspired, created, and then becomes inspiring to others. Describing Allen Guttmann’s findings within the book, Sports and American Art from Benjamin West to Andy Warhol, Berglund states, “The book is not simply about sports in art. Instead, Allen looks at the parallel histories of these two forms of cultural expression. The similarities are surprising. As Allen points out at the beginning, both art and sports have no utilitarian value to society: ‘They serve no practical purpose.’”
Despite the fact there is seemingly no logic in the love of sports and art, it exists. It’s born from an emotional connection with which many of us at Sports Art International are very familiar. As long as art continues to be produced, we will continue to be inspired. It begs the question, “Where does YOUR inspiration come from?”