Years ago I was contacted by the founders of The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about their interest in my bobblehead painting of “The Big Red Machine”, and I supplied a piece of my artwork for their collection.
This past week I was asked by the Director of The Bobblehead Museum if I could answer a few questions about my piece for a profile they have interest in doing about the artwork in the museum. I felt that they were good questions that were posed that were worth taking time to reflect upon. Below are the inquiries and some of my thoughts:
I wonder if you can tell me why you chose to depict these players as bobbleheads? Do you have any special memories or attachment to bobbleheads?
My Answers & Reflections:
The idea to paint “The Big Red Machine” as an interpretive piece of artwork to look like an imagined mosaic and the idea to represent the players in the picture as bobbleheads came almost simultaneously. Why depict these historic ball players as bobbleheads? That is a good question which I know I could answer in many different ways, but I think that essentially it was the concept of piecing things together that influenced my inspiration to imagine a painting of bobbleheads.
The concept of piecing things together and the consideration of the way a mosaic is created by taking distinctive characteristics of various different objects and assembling them to be integrated together to create the wholeness of a new object is partly what lead to my inspiration to choose to use a collection of bobbleheads of a team of my childhood baseball heroes and make a complete picture of what is famously known as “The Great Eight” or with Sparky Anderson added, “The Big Red Machine”.
In this integrative study of mine, by representing this team of ball players as bobbleheads, to a good degree I was recognizing that conceptually I was objectifying the individuals as figures to be broken down into parts and pieces so that I could do the work of imagined mosaic creating by arranging the pieces of each form to create the form of another bigger piece. With this understanding that a mosaic is made by putting together varying objects, it seemed fitting to me then that in the process of completing my painting, my objectification of the figure pieces be done in a spirited way of creating by playing with the animated athletes as a collection of dolls.
Aside from the playful fun of creating with a collection of bobblehead dolls, the more inspirational part of these imaginings of a mosaic formed from the images of baseball player bobbleheads can be found in the colorfulness expressed in these figures. To me the colorfulness found in using bobbleheads to paint a picture allowed me to not only express the bright energy of these Major League legends, but it is also allowed me to depict the meaningfulness that the mosaic found artistic completeness through the distinct form and ethnically diverse full range of color found through each individual bobblehead image that when put together collectively in one united piece represents a vibrant picture of what American World Champions look like.
I expressed more of these reflections on American ideals, diversity, and championship baseball here in my blog “Colorful Success” where I also listed some more of my projects and artistic studies through the subject of baseball and some of its best and most highlighted players that I knew from growing up and watching them play for my hometown.
On this MLK Holiday Weekend in 2017, I will share one of my baseball art prints that I created four Januarys ago. It is a piece of art that I list in my Etsy shop as “Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine Painted Bobblehead Mosaic” and it has grown to be my best selling print that sends me to the post office regularly for deliveries of continued incoming orders.
My husband will clearly reason that part of the great sales success with my “Big Red Machine” art is because, as he says, “They never lose.” ; but, for me, the attraction and colorful beauty of this art subject has more historical meaning.
As a child growing up in my hometown of Cincinnati in the 1970’s, this team of spirted ballplayers helped provide for me not only an understanding of an organization that my country clearly valued, but it also provided an example of what my country looks and acts like. It was through this team that I came to recognize and see what I was being taught in school at the time - - That the United States is a colorful “Melting Pot” comprised of people coming from diverse heritages and various nations around the world; and that, like “The Big Red Machine”, it is a collection of unique people finding common ground to gather for the sake of exercising their individual talents and visions as part of a unified whole.
For this group of baseball players, it was through such obvious diversity and, of course, recognition that everybody plays a part and that the perspective of each position is needed, that this team was able to show itself as having the strength to become a legend worth celebrating. For me, as a ball playing eight-year-old in 1975, this collection of World Series champs of “America’s Pastime” represented a symbolic picture of my colorful country, The United States.
This January, more than ever, I have grown to not take these idealistic views formed in my childhood for granted. I still admire "The Big Red Machine" and will forever celebrate the colorfulness of its success.
On this day now in the middle of November in 2023, when reviewing this picture to think about the questions asked, I once again see how I was identifying my connection to it by recognizing that to some degree we all want to be like winners who can rise above loss, or elimination, or conflict, or struggle. Or maybe it could be that at times any one of us looks to envision a good team to be a part of or to be there to help shine light on and support for his or her cause, or spirit, or life even; but the reality often known is that conditions do not always reflect the glossy shininess of encapsulated spirit and vitality in the concrete way that this collection of triumphant “Big Red Machine” bobblehead collector’s pieces can.
I’m sure that on another level this hopeful fun and pretend glorification that bobbleheads can bring was always another force behind my creation of this picture of repeated sole survivors of back-to-back Major League Baseball seasons so many years ago. In the same way that a child may play with a gathering of dolls or toys to project and create an image of a dreamed-up ideal, or maybe have them to represent a collective symbol of victors who were able to overcome and conquer adversity, or simply just take them to create a scene of figures in a mission accomplished, I similarly used bobblehead pieces of these solid World Series Champs to put together an enduring picture of imagined heroism.
Find the “Colorful Success” blog with links to many more baseball pieces and reflections here:
…And find additional links to baseball artwork including more bobblehead teams in these blogs:
“My Wire-to-Wire Summer with Twelve Stars and A Piece of American History”
I also more recently did another piece about toy figurines found in the blog:
“Canvas #12: Six Elements Plus Six Green Figurines”
I am a 'self-taught' artist who can hardly remember a day when I wasn't in the process of creating something... Thanks for visiting my site where I can share some of my work.