Advertisement
  1. Visual Arts

Two Tampa art exhibits celebrate baseball in time for spring training

Sandi Santiago and Mike Buddie of the Oneonta Yankees in 1992, as seen in the exhibition â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009CMinor Leaguesâ\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009D by photographer Andrea Modica at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa. Photo by Andrea Modica, courtesy of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.
Published Mar. 21, 2018

TAMPA

America's favorite pastime is up to bat in exhibitions at two art institutions.

One show is full of the fun and obsessiveness that devoted fans bring to baseball. The other focuses on the solitary intensity of young players trying to break into the major leagues. Both are filled with the love of the game.

Yogi Berra, the iconic New York Yankees hitter and catcher, once said, "Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too." That's what George Sosnak must have felt when he started creating his colorful baseballs now on view at the Tampa Museum of Art. "Having a Ball: George Sosnak's Striking Portraits From America's Pastime" features Sosnak's detailed sketches of players in action as well as his listings of baseball stats, all drawn on regular, manufactured baseballs.

Sosnak, who died in 1992, wanted to be a player but found that he was better at being an umpire in the minor leagues. He went to umpire school in Florida, settled in Lakeland and supplemented his minor league income with stints as a baker, construction worker and corrections officer. With no formal art training, he began decorating baseballs with his love of the game.

He was hoping to make a baseball commemorating a special moment in each team's history. His self-assigned task was to "create balls for every player in the Baseball Hall of Fame." He didn't get every player, but he did manage to finish quite a few, as well as have a lot of fun.

The exhibition, organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., includes 43 of his baseballs. Painting across the seams on the baseball surface, he caught a great action moment in the minor leagues when a player for the Cedar Rapids Braves struck out before he could reach base.

Another baseball features a moment he knew personally: the fury directed at an umpire after an unpopular call. Close to his heart is the image of a halo-wearing umpire getting yelled at by Casey Stengel of the New York Yankees and Jack Tighe of the Detroit Tigers.

There are also baseballs here signed by the giants of the sport: Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and more.

The passion and power of the sport are on view across Curtis Hixon Park at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. That's where photographs reveal the silent but burning intensity of young players as they reach for a spot in the major leagues. As usual, Yogi Berra said it best: "Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical."

In her exhibition "Minor Leagues," celebrated photographer Andrea Modica shines a revealing light on the "90 percent mental" as she focuses on young men filled with a passionate desire to get in the game. Modica, whose work is collected by such major institutions as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, uses light and shadows to expose the pent-up mental energy as these hopefuls strive.

Andy Croghan of the Oneonta Yankees is seen momentarily at rest, but he is wound up tighter than a spring. His face is half-hidden in the shadows, but the sun reveals his fingers clutching a baseball with a pitcher's grasp. Seen together but suffering separately are Sandi Santiago and Mike Buddie of the same minor league team. Santiago holds onto the grill and looks sideways at the camera while Buddie folds his arms self-protectively. Their postures are more expressive than their tight, wary faces. How they perform that day might determine their fates in the big leagues.

These photographs were taken in 1992. As baseball fans know, one of the hopefuls would make it to the big time and beyond. Catch a fresh-faced Derek Jeter among those players.

Modica, who uses a bulky 8- by 10-inch view camera, is an artist who is masterful in the use of light. Because she needs to get long-term exposures, she cultivates an empathy with her subjects. That extra time spent allows her to get closer to their feelings. She further orchestrates these delicate moods by manipulating the platinum-palladium prints in the darkroom. Taken together, these two exhibitions bring to life the agony and the ecstasy of the game.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A mermaid attraction at the Shine mural festival finale is an example of what to expect at Fairgrounds, an immersive art attraction coming to The Factory St. Pete. Courtesy of Liz Dimmitt
    Two art compounds include hands-on ways to appreciate art, plus breweries that encourage visitors to make a day of it.
  2. "Ai Weiwei: Zodiac (2018) LEGO" will be on display at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota starting Nov. 16. Courtesy of Jason Schmidt
    Plus, Tampa Museum of Art presents “the Making of a Museum” and Karen Lamonte takes over the Imagine Museum.
  3. Jamie Randall and Mark Clarson have collaborated to make decanters based on extinct birds. Courtesy of Alec Miller Arts
    There’s ‘Sweater Weather’ at Mize and a lecture at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, too.
  4. “'The Grasshopper and the Ant’ and Other Stories as Told by Jennifer Angus" installation, which is composed of 5,000 dried exotic insects, is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg through Jan. 5, 2020. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Jennifer Angus’ installation, ‘The Grasshopper and the Ant,’ is her largest to date.
  5. An electrical box is seen directly across the street from John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg on Oct. 31. A mural by Shine mural festival artist iBoms was removed after parents' complaints. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The edgy work by Jabari Reed, a.k.a. iBoms, was installed near John Hopkins Middle School.
  6. Leslie Peebles is the featured artist at Dunedin's Art Harvest on Saturday and Sunday. Courtesy of the Junior League Clearwater-Dunedin
    Plus, Babette Herschberger’s deceptively simple surface studies bring color to the Leslie Curran Gallery in St. Petersburg.
  7. A cyclist heads east on the Pinellas Trail in St. Petersburg on Monday. With a grant from NOAA, mural artists Blaine Fontana and Jeremy Nichols, both of Portland, Ore., are creating a mural for the Shine Mural Festival on the exterior of Bama Sea Products that features Florida sea creatures. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The St. Petersburg mural festival ends with a daytime party on Saturday.
  8. Work continues on the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, seen here in August 2019. The museum was scheduled to open in December, but now the date has been pushed back again to early spring of 2020.
    The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement was originally slated to open in 2017. That has changed many times.
  9. Muralists Blaine Fontana and Jeremy Nichols, both of Portland, OR., are creating this piece for the Shine Mural Festival that features Florida sea creatures with a grant from NOAA. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Plus, you can take a ride through the Terror Tent at the Pinellas Art Villages’ Spookfest.
  10. Art collector Stanton Storer talks about "Unbound," the exhibit of his art collection at the University of Tampa's Scarfone/Hartley Gallery. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    A new exhibition at the University of Tampa includes works from his extensive collection of renowned artists and locals.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement