Art and Sport collide -rws -jcr -dlh

Joe Pfender

On the Lawrence campus, as in the Fox Valley area, sports play a prominent role in everyday life. Frisbees and soccer balls sail exuberantly over the Green in the spring and fall, and in winter competitors seek refuge from the cold with basketball, wrestling, and swimming, among others.
It is hardly surprising then, that the Appleton Art Center would schedule an art exhibit highlighting sports. The show is entitled “Competing Images,” and while it primarily consists of art from Appleton and the Fox Valley, it has attracted artists from as distant as California and New Jersey as well.
Todd Midtvedt, the programming director in charge of this exhibition, is very interested in working with not only the Art Center staff but with the community as well, scheduling shows that appeal to different segments of the population. He felt that a sports theme in particular would attract people that might not otherwise find themselves in an art gallery. At the same time, the art does not consist exclusively of posters. While many of the paintings are of famous athletes, they typically retain their artistic integrity. “People like to be challenged,” said Midtvedt, but the work must still be accessible for them to get in the door. Pop culture redeemed, it is now showing.
One artist of particular interest to Midtvedt is James Peterson, a local expressionist who uses huge canvasses to paint portraits of famous athletes like Tiger Woods and Kevin Garnet. For those who, like this writer, do not have expressionism in their daily vocabulary, it is a subjective spin on impressionism. Both only make sense as a whole, when one steps back and considers the whole. While impressionism seeks to convey the impression of actual objects and landscapes through broken brushstrokes and intense color, expressionism takes an external image and distorts it based on the artist’s interpretation of its true form.
Todd “hates to tell people that [the show] is just about basketball, football, baseball. As much as it is for sports fans, it’s just as much for art appreciators.” The show runs through February 12. Visit for gallery hours.