Remembrance of ballparks past at the Castellani
The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University’s Fields of Dreams: North American Baseball Stadiums exhibit by photographer Jim Dow could not be more perfect for a summer viewing. Showcasing the subtle appeal of old-time baseball fields that are disappearing with increasing frequency across the country, it runs through early August.
The exhibit features twenty-six panoramic photographs of major North American stadiums. According to Michael Beam, the museum’s curator of exhibitions and collections, Dow has always been concerned with capturing the essence of regional life before it fades. He has taken pictures of barbershops, private New York clubs, and English tobacconist shops that are now long gone.
“These images are nostalgic to past generations,” Beam says. “People remember attending games at these historic parks. I believe only three are still in existence. The rest have been rebuilt, so the next generation will not have any memories [or] attachments to these past stadiums.”
Gallery visitors get a chance to view fields, which are usually seen full with people, as blank canvases like heavily made-up faces seen for the first time without embellishments. In the picture of Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, for example, a bright red rain tarp acts as the photo’s center, surrounded by seven levels of yellow and red seating and cloudy skies. An evocative Marlboro advertisement sits in the back of “The Vet.” (The stadium was opened in 1971 and demolished in 2004.)
“As a sports fan, Dow first photographed Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and from there he went onto shoot many of the major, and minor league stadiums in North America,” Beam says.
Dow’s pictures have been featured globally including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This exhibition in will feature panoramic color shots of well-known baseball venues including Comiskey Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Candlestick Park. This particular exhibit takes a new angle that interweaves some of Niagara University’s alumni into Dow’s art.
“Our exhibition has a local component that highlights fourteen Niagara University alumni who went onto the major leagues, like Joe McCarthy and Sal Maglie,” Beam says. “This exhibition bridges the gap, in a meaningful way, between contemporary art enthusiasts and sports [baseball] fans without pandering to them in a superficial way. This exhibition is bringing in crowds, tourists, [and] visitors that might not normally come to a contemporary art museum, but will to see the baseball exhibition.”
To highlight Fields of Dreams, the Castellani will hold an afternoon of hot dogs, readings, and raggles from 2 to 5 p.m. on June 27. For more info, call 286-8286.