About the Art
Putting the Art Back in Thee Game
I’ve been wanting to do this for years. I’ve always enjoyed art, we all do. I’m not saying I’m an artist by any means, but I’ve always enjoyed the concepts. I believe baseball is a very artistic game and that major league players are artists, just like athletes from all of the other professional sports. For some time, I have tried to coerce Major League Baseball to utilize “Put the Art Back in Thee Game” as a marketing campaign. I was unable to get anyone to bite, so I did it myself.
What you’re seeing right now in my mind’s eye is how to promote the game of baseball. We are trying to attract young people to the sport, whether it’s to play it, or just enjoy it and become involved. I think for the group that doesn’t want to necessarily participate, this may resonate. From the artistic component, it creates curiosity. Eventually, these potential new fans read all of the slangs and phrases and ask, “What does this mean?” Hopefully, it will draw them in as they consider the game through a unique, artistic lens.
For me personally, it was also about creating a theme for my team in a different way, promoting the arts in the City of Chicago and beyond, and fundraising for our foundation, Respect 90®.
All of these paintings, the formatting and the writing on them are my ideas, culled from 43 years in professional baseball. The project came to life in January when I saw a parody of the Mona Lisa by artist Jason Skeldon while shopping at the Milano Exchange, a Tampa clothing store. I loved his urban art style. We met, I shared my ideas and it clicked. It didn’t hurt that I had just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of da Vinci. After that, it came together quickly.
- Joe Maddon
About the Eight Pieces
The first creation was the Mona Lisa. It is the linchpin to the whole thing. She is about putting the art back into the game. This painting is more about the artistic parts of baseball, but it encompasses all of the elements of the game. It’s about defense and base running and hitting. It’s also about first-time eyes and first-time passion. Once we accomplished what we did in 2016, it’s hard to recreate that feeling. We all know what that’s like. Firsts are firsts. So, moving forward we somehow have to fool ourselves into seeing with first-time eyes and feeling the first-time passion. I think that permits you to accomplish things you have reached in the past.
David (currently not available) is about pitching, specifically about dominating the 1-1 count (on the hitter). It looks as though David is standing on the mound at Wrigley with the center field scoreboard in the background. The rock in David’s slingshot is similar to a baseball, which is sometimes called a “rock.” I also included a quote from Hall of Fame lefthander Warren Spahn, who I was fortunate enough to work with in 1981, regarding the idea that “hitting is timing, and pitching is the upsetting of timing.”
Dali is about catching and the tools of intelligence. Often times, the catcher’s gear is referred to as the tools of ignorance. I did clinics for many years throughout the United States and Europe and every time I spoke on catching, I would refer to the catcher’s equipment as the tools of intelligence, because a catcher has so much going on inside. You have to know your pitcher. You have to know your defenses. You have to think in advance. It’s not unlike the quarterback on a football field. Dali is also about balancing data vs. art, with data being the numerical, analytical side of the game and art as the human being. The flamingo standing on one leg is about balance. It’s about not relying too much on data or too much on art. You have to balance it all out and come up with the cocktail that works for the group.
Muhammad Ali is regarding the five levels of being a professional. This might be my favorite, only because the message is something I derived in 1995 sitting in the bowels of Anaheim Stadium at one o’clock in the morning after a tough loss. It was my first year as a major league coach. I had never played in the big leagues so I wanted to know what am I seeing here? What is going on here? What are the major leagues all about? That’s when I thought about the five levels of being a professional. I chose to put them on the Muhammad Ali art because I have never witnessed a more dynamic, charismatic figure in my lifetime. Eventually, I realized that these five levels not only pertained to Major League Baseball, but to any professional endeavor.
This print is about the importance of building Relationships. The steps are pretty basic. It starts with trust. Once trust is created, ideas can be exchanged and once that occurs, constructive criticism flows where there is no pushback. What you have is an environment where everybody is working to create a common answer and it’s not about being right, it’s about getting it right; that’s when things happen in a positive way.
Uncle Sam is about we want you… to be yourself. The critical phrase there is “the more freedom given, the greater respect and discipline returned.” When I was with Tampa Bay and we had a low payroll team in a small market, I was often asked “How could you be so successful?” And I thought and thought, and my conclusion was that we were unique in that we created a group that was allowed to be themselves and in return, we got a larger amount of respect and discipline which equaled a total buy-in. Everybody was on the same page. I believe that should resonate with many people. In the United States, that should absolutely resonate and that’s why Uncle Sam was a great vehicle for that message.
Einstein is about thinking outside the box. There are so many things in Major League Baseball, or baseball in general, that I have never agreed with. Some of those accepted, finite thoughts can actually hinder the development of a player. Whether it’s a rule such as not making the first or third out at third base, or having to dress a certain way on road trips, you’re stifling individuality, you’re stifling instinct and you’re stifling a lot of what a player might have within him. If this occurs, you’re not going to get all of that player on the field. Equally important is the formula E² = Win², which is energy plus enthusiasm gives you an opportunity. If you’re good and you just show up, it’s probably not going to work. But if you show up and you’re good and you have this high level of energy and enthusiasm, you have a much better shot of attaining your goal.
Mad(don) Magazine (currently not available) is about eradicating ten negative concepts including overuse of cell phones. I don’t mean to bash technology, I love technology, but I believe when you’re on a cell phone, it creates distance from the person you are with at that moment. I’ve had T-shirts made up that say ”Tell me what you think, not what you have heard.” I don’t feel like that happens very often. There’s too much noise. We’re not paying attention. We are regurgitating what we have just heard. In the painting, we’re blowing up apathy, we’re blowing up redundancy, we’re blowing up the victim’s complex. Basically, we are blowing up 10 ideas that have no place in baseball. I’ve always been a fan of Mad Magazine and the “Spy vs. Spy” characters are perfect for the demolition.
About the Artist - Jason Skeldon
“SKEL” is the alias for Artist Jason Skeldon, originally from Las Vegas. The artist has resided most of his life in Tampa, Florida. Jason has work hanging all over the United States including Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. His art style is influenced by pop culture and current events used with spray paints, acrylic, watercolors, stencils, and resins. Jason’s work can be seen in his gallery at Opes Health or at International Mall, Mesu Art Gallery, Aloft Hotel Orlando, 1826 Bar and Lounge and many more places. Some notable clients are Kevin Hart(comedian), Taylor Swift(singer), Akon(singer), Rashad Evans(MMA), Hulk Hogan, Phil Heath, Ian Somerhalder (vampire diaries), Wade Boggs(Baseball), and Jameis Winston (football). Jason never went to art school and created his own style of art through trial and error with multiple mediums. Influencers are Banksy(artist), Walt Disney, and Warren Buffet.