Blue Field Explosions (2009)
Urethane, pigment and oil stick on wall
Approximately 22 feet by 70 feet
Located in NE Monumental Staircase
On any given Sunday, everything can change in a split-second.
That is why big plays, explosive hits, even questionable calls are
so important to sports: with them, momentum shifts, games
turn, and winners rise above losers.
Gary Simmons' gigantic wall drawing captures the energy of
these decisive moments. Rather than depicting a specific event
and limiting his art to illustrating the past, Simmons brings
the sudden, ear-splitting, earth-shattering, outcome-altering
explosiveness of game highlights into the present, where viewers
are called on to fill in the blanks by using their imaginations. Part
of the power of Blue Field Explosions (2009) is that it reawakens
our capacity to anticipate, to dream, and to hope.
Simmons emerged as an artist in the early 1990s with his "Erasure
Drawings," a series of chalk drawings on blackboards. An
African-American, he began many of these works by accurately
outlining 1930s cartoon characters that often embodied racial
stereotypes. Simmons then used his bare hands, arms, and
shoulders to smudge, smear, and all but erase the white-onblack
images. What resulted were ghostly, gray traces of the
original characters and the artist's unsuccessful yet vigorous,
even violent attempt to obliterate them.
This double-edged thrust continues in the double-barreled format
of Blue Field Explosions. All of Simmons' handmade drawings are
accessible and potent. They build on the comic strip-inspired Pop
Art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein by making a place for the
artist's touch in a world of mass-produced imagery. For Simmons,
that is both subtle and tough, elegant and explosive.