NEWS

Surefire hit: Gallery in Weymouth celebrates baseball with ‘Opening Day’

Bob Jackman

The crack of the bat and the pop of the glove beckon New Englanders. The Boys of Summer again reign supreme, having taken over ball fields, coffee shops, and even art galleries.

The Dickinson Gallery in Weymouth features “Opening Day,” an appealing exhibition of 25 works devoted to the national pastime.

Whitman artist Sally McCarthy exhibits a half-dozen oils that capture the atmosphere in and around Fenway Park. “I am a huge baseball fan,” McCarthy said. “My husband has had weekend season-tickets for a long time. I consider paintings at the ballpark to be cityscapes – they combine the architecture and the people, sort of architecture against nature. I love that. The neat thing with a crowd scene is that you can paint individuals into the crowd.”

“I painted the first ‘Yawkey Way’ picture as a Christmas present for my husband last year. I had not painted baseball before. I have painted mostly ocean scenes, but now I plan to do more scenes around and inside Fenway.”

Any Red Sox fan who sees “Yawkey Way #2” will immediately feel the pre-game buzz that permeates Yawkey Way on game day. The street has been closed to vehicles, and a sea of optimistic fans flows at a more leisurely pace. A row of bright red vendor umbrellas float above the crowd. The severe Fenway wall is softened by division championship banners, American League pennants, and World Series championship flags. Faces in the crowd glow with anticipation.

But while the major leagues draw intense media attention, the amateur game throbs stronger in the hearts of some diamond devotees.

The drama of amateur contests is more appealing to Quincy’s Annette Paglierani.

“I love to watch the local games,” she said. “The young children get so excited; they are so wholeheartedly involved. There is a great spirit.”

“Adams Field,” an oil by Paglierani, captures a Babe Ruth League game at the venerable Wollaston landmark. A brilliant sunset glowing beyond left field indicates the game is in the later innings. A Quincy batter, dressed in red, has just hit a blooper toward shallow left centerfield. Frantic base coaches wave on runners who fill the sacks – there must be two outs. Yellow-clad fielders race to the projected landing point of the ball. Crowds behind both benches rise to cheer their teams – one side calling for a catch, the other for a hit.

Paglierani commented, “I was trying to capture the drama of the scene.” She masterfully succeeded.

Paglierani is not the only Quincy artist fascinated by amateur baseball.

Julianna Molloy-Bithoney titled her watercolor “Mighty Mikey.”

“My whole family has been baseball fans for many years,” she said. “I love the intense expression of the children as they play. This painting was based on a photograph I had. The boy on the mound is just going into his windup, and he has a steely-eyed look. His expression is just priceless. It won a first prize at the Quincy 2007 Artfest.”

New Englanders take pride in quirky Fenway Park. While Fenway has some electronic scoreboards, the scoreboard is the one inside the leftfield wall.

“Fenway 6,” a photograph by Marshfield’s Mike Sleeper, captures the scene within the scoreboard. Sunlight pours through the slots for each inning. On the back wall hang numbers for game use. Sleeper said he used a soft flash to boost the natural light.

“I took the photograph eight or 10 years ago when Dan Duquette was the general manager,: Sleeper said. “The brownish reddish color on many surfaces was caused by a fine dust that settled everywhere. It was shot with a film camera, and the print was developed by a commercial printer.”

“Collector’s Fantasy,” an oil still-life by George Hartley, casts another long look to the game’s nostalgic past. A bat, ball, glove, sweatshirt, and coach’s whistle provide the backdrop for a dozen baseball cards. The memories of baseball aficionados shift to overdrive recalling feats of Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Larry Lajoie, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.

“The painting is a fantasy because these are among the most costly of all cards,” Hartley said. “The Honus Wagner card sold for $600,000 a few years ago at auction. No collector could afford to have all these cards.”

If you go

WHAT: Baseball art exhibition

WHERE: Dickinson Art Gallery, 1132 Main St., (Route 18), Weymouth

WHEN: Through April 30; Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free admission

MORE INFO: Call 781-331-3384 or online at www.dickinsonartgallery.com; Artist reception from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday