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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Roots of Rodeo at the Amon Carter

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/06/21/where-the-west-never-ends/

Two Fort Worth neighbors have their roots in the same place: The Old West.

I’m talking about the Amon Carter Museum and the rodeo that resides across the street from it. The museum began with its namesake’s collection of works depicting the American frontier by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. These artists attempted to show the robust lifestyle of those who made their homes in that legendary expanse.

Though the Carter has expanded its collection of American art well beyond the cowboy genre, western heritage still forms an important part of its identity. The facility dedicates an entire section to the works of Remington and Russell.

As I wrote in the Stuff section of the Weekly this week, the museum also owns a number of works with a sports theme. One intriguing example comes via a letter Russell wrote to a man he calls “Friend Guy.” The artist would often illustrate his correspondence and visitors can view several of the originals preserved in drawers. On January 28, 1916, he wrote to Guy Weadick about “bronk riders” and “bull dogers (aka steer wrestlers)” He notes that Weadick’s audience members “have all seen wild west shows but yours is no show it’s a contest where horses and riders are strangers.” The event Weadick founded would eventually become one of the world’s premier rodeos: The Calgary Stampede. Russell had knowledge of its first incarnations in Calgary and Winnipeg.
Charles M. Russell (1864-1926); Friend Guy [Guy Weadick], January 28, 1916; 1916; Ink, watercolor, and graphite on paper; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; 1961.308.1
photo courtesy Amon Carter Museum
The following year, Fort Worth would make one of its major contributions to the sport by staging the first indoor rodeo. The Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo pioneered other innovations as well, including side-release bucking chutes, and lays claim to having hosted the first modern bull riding event in 1920.

Competitions in which cowboys tested their riding and roping skills had sprung up in the latter part of the 19th century, around the time when Russell and Remington were creating the images of the West for which they became known. Some of the creations portrayed cowboys working at the tasks that eventually would be incorporated into the sport of rodeo.

The most prominent such work is a sculpture by Remington called The Broncho Buster. The Carter owns three versions of it, with the largest placed prominently in a first-floor gallery. It shows a cowboy in the act of conditioning a recalcitrant mount to accept the idea of having a rider on its back.
That endeavor translates pretty straightforwardly into the bronc riding competitions one might see in the Will Rogers Memorial Center arena. Other events, like bull riding, were created especially for the rodeo arena. Each year, the Stock Show supplements its regular PRCA shows with a Best of the West Ranch Rodeo featuring events designed to reflect the daily duties of a working ranchhand. The Stock Show, and indeed Cowtown in general, is never shy about celebrating western heritage.


When we visit the rodeo or the art museum, we do so in part to observe and enjoy talent – the artist’s beautiful brushstrokes or the surpassing athletic abilities of human and animal competitors. We also expand our knowledge of the culture that permeates each. In Fort Worth, we are fortunate to have more than one way to appreciate, and learn about, the vigor, toughness, and character of those who call themselves cowboys and cowgirls. And the two venues are right across the street from each other.


Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.
 
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art and Sports at the Amon Carter Museum

This post originally appeared in the Stuff section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/06/21/the-art-%e2%80%a8of-sport/

For a world-class art institution, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art sure has a sporting side. A surprising number of works depict subjects sprinting, punching, exercising, competing, and otherwise engaging in sporting pursuits. What many regard as the institution’s best known work revolves around an aquatic sport. In Thomas Eakins’ “Swimming,” a half-dozen unclad males gather at a country lake. The painting created controversy for the artist while he was serving as a professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Thomas Eakins Swimming, 1885 Photo courtesy of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Thomas Eakins
Swimming, 1885, Amon Carter Museum of American Art
“You can see [Eakins] with his dog and clearly identify that these are his students,” explained Amon Carter associate curator Maggie Adler. “That was a huge no-no.”
Eakins, she continued, “believed that you should teach art to people using live nude models. That was not allowed if you had men and women in the classroom.”

Eakins would later resign his post after his removal of a loincloth from a classroom model generated more Victorian-era handwringing.

Adler possesses unique qualifications when it comes to examining the representation of sport in art. In addition to her masters in art history from Williams College and experience at multiple museums, the Scarsdale, NY, native excelled as a competitive archer. She shot well enough to try out for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. She finds a certain similarity between the two pursuits. “I feel the same way entering a competition as I do before I go to give a lecture or talk,” she said, “because you get yourself psyched up. It takes a certain amount of adrenaline.”

Most of the Carter’s sports-related objects tend more toward Adler’s style of sport than stick-and-ball games. Archery figures prominently in a painting that recalls the museum’s own heritage as an institution focused on the American West.
George Catlin; "Archery of the Apachees [sic]"; ca. 1855; Oil on paper mounted on paperboard; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Paul Mellon; 1986.40
George Catlin; "Archery of the Apachees [sic]"; ca. 1855; Oil on paper mounted on paperboard; Amon Carter Museum
Around 1855, George Catlin painted a crowd of Apaches watching fellow tribesmen riding fast-moving horses while attempting to shoot arrows at targets on the ground, a piece entitled “Archery of the Apaches.” “That would be really complicated to do,” the expert archer said.

Near the Catlin painting on the museum’s second floor, there’s another example of Native Americans engaged in sport. In Seth Eastman’s 1848 work “Ballplay of the Dakota on the St. Peter’s River in Winter,” Sioux athletes play a version of lacrosse. The contest occurs on a frozen river, and the stakes are high. “We think there was gambling involved, so this is maybe why this buffalo hide and arrows … are in the front,” Adler said. “That’s the wager.”
Seth Eastman; "Ballplay of the Dakota on the St. Peters River in Winter"; 1848; oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth Texas, Acquisition in memory of Mitchell A. Wilder, Director, Amon Carter Museum, 1961-1979; 1979.4
Seth Eastman; "Ballplay of the Dakota on the St. Peters River in Winter"; 1848; oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum
Adler said Eastman’s wife also recorded that this full-contact version of lacrosse often resulted in broken limbs and even deaths.

Another athletic pursuit known for its physicality represents perhaps the museum’s most complete archive of any single sport: prints by George Bellows. The museum owns 230 of the former semipro baseball player’s lithographs, including many gritty boxing scenes. A seminal work from 1917, “A Stag at Sharkey’s,” shows two fighters locked in desperate struggle. The museum has the combat scene displayed next to another of Bellows’ creations, the newly acquired 1917 oil painting “The Fisherman.”
George Bellows (1882-1925); A Stag at Sharkey's; 1917; Lithograph; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; 1983.23
George Bellows (1882-1925); A Stag at Sharkey's; 1917; Lithograph; Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Outdoor sports like fishing and hunting represent much of the museum’s sporting archive, though several of the works have gone on a road trip. Adler and collaborators from other museums incorporated a number of the works into a traveling exhibition. Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art is on view currently at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont and will be in Fort Worth in October.
George Bellows (1882-1925); The Fisherman; 1917; Oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; 2016.9
George Bellows (1882-1925); The Fisherman; 1917; Oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Each Bellows boxing lithograph can remain on display only for a few months at a time to avoid light-inflicted damage. Like most museums, the Amon Carter owns more pieces than it can display at any one time, so more of its sporting art may make its way into the walls in the future.

For more on the Amon Carter and the roots of the sport of rodeo, check out this week’s Sports Rush post in the Blotch section at fwweekly.com.



Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Talking the Talk : Eric Nadel

This post originally appeared at the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To view it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/06/06/sports-rush-eric-nadel-talks-the-talk/


For nearly 40 years, Eric Nadel has described Rangers games for fans listening in their homes and cars (and now on their phones). He’s won numerous sportscasting honors, including the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award. His zeal for helping charities matches his enthusiasm for broadcasting, and he’ll combine the two callings July 13. Nadel, along with Cowboys voice Brad Sham, Mavericks play-by-play man Chuck Cooperstein, and, health permitting, Stars announcer Dave Strader, will conduct a roundtable discussion at their Talk of the Town event. In the video interview at the top of this post, I discussed with Eric the event, his bond with his co-hosts, and his take on certain aspects of sportscasting.

As I prepared for the interview, I looked at a list of some of the auction items Nadel had procured for the event, and spotted some interesting names associated with them. I figured there might be some stories behind the donations, so we conducted a second short interview to discuss them (and have a bit of fun).



The Talk of the Town event happens at 3015 at Trinity Groves in Dallas on July 13. Visit thetalkofthetown.org for details and tickets. #DFWTOTT2017


Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.
 
RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sports and the Service

This post originally appeared at the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To view it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/05/29/sports-rush-sports-and-the-service/

Last Monday, a former serviceman had an exceedingly rare opportunity to ask a former U.S. president a question. The veteran decided he would inquire about baseball.

The next night, I attended another event with vets present. I got to talk to one of them, a recent interview subject of mine. He had a distinguished pro football career, but it was one he had deferred to first fly combat missions in the Persian Gulf.

This weekend, baseball teams wore uniforms featuring color schemes more common to platoons of solders than platooning infielders.

All these cues reminded me that sports and military service are inextricably intertwined. For one thing, the two pursuits reward many of the same traits, including toughness, fitness, and team spirit. That a Chad Hennings (the former football player I mentioned above) could help the Cowboys win three Super Bowl rings makes a certain degree of sense. That he would continue to be involved in military causes, in this case the Airpower Foundation‘s Sky Ball, would also seem logical.

Sports teams have long embraced opportunities to use their venues to recognize the various branches of the military. The Rangers play the Rays tonight and they will no doubt do their usual memorable job of honoring servicemen and women. Teams all over the country will do the same, and their efforts will not be limited to a single important holiday, Memorial Day. We see outreach to the armed forces in some form or fashion on a nightly basis from many (and maybe all) U.S. teams.

The freedom to enjoy diversions like sport is ostensibly one of the things for which soldiers fight. The man who asked George W. Bush about baseball wanted to know the ex-commander-in-chief’s opinion on the Rangers (Bush thinks they’ll rally once Adrián Beltré, Cole Hamels, and Tyson Ross get healthy). The program at the Bush Center that night involved a presentation about the former president’s book of paintings and came after a day of golf for a number of wounded warriors. Bush also helps support the Invictus Games for injured veterans, rides mountain bikes with them, and clearly sees a role for sports in their recoveries.

In a perfect world, they wouldn’t need to recover, but we unfortunately don’t live in one. Pundits can debate the merits of specific foreign policies and whether they truly help or harm the cause of freedom. What is not debatable is that we hope every individual who travels abroad to fight returns safely to watch his or her favorite team or participate in his or her preferred pastime. On Memorial Day, it is important to remember those who have sacrificed. It is even better to be able to go to a ballgame with them. First pitch is 7:05.



Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.

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Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Deep Colors

This post originally appeared at the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To view it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/05/23/sports-rush-deep-colors/



Sometimes, color matters in sports. Uniforms help us tell the competitors apart. We express allegiance to our teams by wearing silver and blue or victory green. Ballparks contrast a dark batter’s eye backdrop against a white baseball.

In art, color becomes even more essential. A muted palette may suggest one set of emotions, while bright colors imply something whole different. Use of color can define an artist.

Sometimes the worlds of sport and art colorfully intersect, as I noticed on a recent visit to the Dallas Museum of Art. Along an upstairs wall hangs a painting by Ángel Zárraga called La futbolista. The museum brought it in as part of the exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde, an installation of nearly 200 works executed in multiple media by early-20th century Mexican artists.

Zárraga’s painting depicts a female soccer player posed in uniform, seemingly ready for a match to begin. Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA, said via email that “Zárraga, like many other artists in the exhibition, was interested in portraying strong, modern women, engaged in tasks beyond what would have been expected of them in the traditional society of pre-revolutionary Mexico. A woman football player exemplifies this modernity.”

The 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution, which deposed a long-time dictator and hoped to shape a more forward-looking and equitable society, provides context for the artists’ expressions. As their countrymen and women looked to elevate their nation’s status, the painters, sculptors, and filmmakers tried to do their part. Brodbeck describes them as “some of the most sought-after artists in the US and Europe,” with Rivera, for instance, receiving just the second one-person exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. The art world saw value in the images these men and women created. It didn’t matter that they came from a Central American country many might have previously considered culturally backwards.

In sport as in art, performance should, and often does, trump all else. A Jackie Robinson can show that African-Americans belong in Major League Baseball; A Doug Williams can prove a black quarterback can win a Super Bowl; A Dominican, David Ortiz, can pretty much own a New England city known for bursts of racial intolerance.

It’s tougher to smear a minority group as inferior when members of that group reveal themselves as world-class practitioners of something. The idea that governments should limit business or personal contacts with people solely because of national origin seems less viable when we can envision those persons being the next Diego or Mariano Rivera.

Brodbeck noted, “The exhibition highlights historical moments of close cross-cultural exchange between the US and Mexico—times when pan-Americanism was politically attractive– and is proof that there is strength in our unity and our similarities vastly outweigh our differences.”

The DMA’s México 1900–1950 presents an opportunity for visitors to experience, and more importantly, appreciate a culture sometimes portrayed as second-class. Art devotees know it to be otherwise – this show debuted in Paris, France, not exactly an artistic backwater.

Will it succeed in bringing people together? Kimberly Daniell of the DMA’s public relations staff supplied me with some of the glowing comments visitors have made about the exhibition, including phrases like “The show is spectacular” and “It was fabulous!” As I examined some of the commenters, I spotted surnames like Gomez, Olmos, and Gutierrez. But I also saw monikers like Feingold, Tran, and Sprague writing things like “Love Frida!“ While I don’t know the specific backgrounds of any of those involved, that feels like cross-cultural exchange to me. Based on the attendance figures Brodbeck supplied, more than 50,000 people have participated in such exchange so far, and the exhibition will run through July 16.

Colors often matter in sport and art. But sometimes they don’t. The color of the hand that wields the paintbrush or shoots the basketball carries no importance. It’s what ends up on the canvas or in the hoop that is what we care the most about. That distinction is actually pretty black and white.



Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.
 
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Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Forecast Calls for Snack Cakes

This post originally appeared at the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To view it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/05/19/sports-rush-the-forecast-calls-for-snack-cakes/

Thursday before the Rangers game, I put a snack cake on Rodney Gadsden’s head.
OK, I didn’t actually place it there. That job fell to a girl named Tochi Zama Emeruen. Both fans had come to the game expecting to watch the Rangers go for a sweep of the Phillies and also learn about how weather works. Instead, they found themselves on the visiting dugout, engaged in hijinks.

“It was unexpected,” said Gadsden, who had come to game as a chaperone for his daughter Sierra’s school field trip.

Every year, the Rangers team with the meteorology staff at CBS-11 for a pregame event designed to teach schoolchildren about how weather phenomena work. Getting thousands of youngsters and adults seated before the show starts is by its nature somewhat of a drawn-out process, so I have traditionally assisted team mascot Rangers Captain in performing games and skits to warm up the spectators as they file in. Rangers Six Shooters help us select likely candidates to join us atop the dugout.


We usually have a lot of raised hands from which to choose. A couple of Six Shooters pulled Rodney and Tochi from their seats among the Newman International Academy traveling party. They had no idea what they were in for.

They would compete against two other pairs in the morning’s first game – snack cake stacking. Each adult had to kneel down and each kid had to unwrap a set of chocolate snack cakes and place it on the kneeler’s forehead. The first to successfully balance four total treats would win.

Tochi, who, like Sierra Gadsden, attends NIA, allowed that she was nervous. She doesn’t like to get up on stage and had never done this before, although, let’s face it, pretty much nobody has ever done this sort of thing before. It turns out she’s a natural snack-cake-piler, though, as she finished first. Rodney did his part by making an effort to “just stay still and let her do what she needed to do.”

A young lady named Caroline followed Tochi’s effort by managing to stack three apples in a few seconds (something Rangers Captain and I really didn’t think could be done). The final game involved kids pulling all the facial tissues out of a box with one hand and then it was time for the weathermen and women to do their thing.

“It was pretty interesting just to be a part of their fun and excitement,” said Gadsden afterwards. When you go to a ballgame, there’s always more to it than just watching the on-field action. You could end up on the kisscam, or try some new food concoction, or find yourself on the dugout with the mascot and thousands of people watching you as you attempt to pile sugary confections as skillfully as possible.

Rangers Captain and I agreed that these contests worked as well as any we had done, so expect to see more like them if you attend the Dallas Zoo’s Wildlife Education Day at the ballgame on June 22, or if you return to Weather Day next season.

One attends such events to do stuff one can’t do at home. For Tochi, that was the best part of her snack-game experience.

“We get to play with food, because our parents don’t allow us to play with food.”


Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Thursday, May 11, 2017

From Australia with Love, Football, and Basketball

This post originally appeared at the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To view it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/05/10/sports-rush-from-australia-with-love-football-and-basketball/


The Dallas Wings’ Erin Phillips had a really interesting offseason. She played professionally in another sport and had a couple of big developments in her family. Meanwhile her team addressed some crucial needs and has given fans and players reason for optimism heading into the new season. In this video interview, she talks about all of it in her awesome Australian accent (alliteration intentional).



Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

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