Football and art to merge in unique exhibition at CSU museum

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Scrimmage: Football in American Art from the Civil War to the Present, an exhibition of art work by 53 artists with subject matter that examines the quintessentially American sport of football, opens Aug. 28 at CSU’s University Art Museum.

This exhibition is organized by the University Art Museum and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. The exhibition was co-curated by Linny Frickman, director of the University Art Museum, and Danielle Knapp McCosh, associate curator at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Always free, open to the public

The exhibition will be displayed in all galleries in the University Art Museum through Dec. 18. General museum hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and all programs are free and open to the public. The museum is located in the University Center for the Arts at 1400 Remington St.

The exhibition will kick off with with a ceremony from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 28 in front of the UCA. Special guests include CSU President Tony Frank, former CSU football coach Sonny Lubick, Ann Gill, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, guest artists and representatives from CSU Athletics. The festivities also feature a performance by the CSU marching band and a free exhibition poster signing; concessions will be available from local food trucks.

Linny Frickman, director of the University Art Museum, worked for more than two years putting together the artwork for Scrimmage.

Scrimmage gathers original works of art for the first comprehensive survey of work by prominent American artists who have pictured football and its public culture. The exhibition ranges in time period from an 1857 wood engraving by Winslow Homer to The Match Between Sophs and Freshmen – the Opening, picturing the sports origins on Ivy League campuses, to recent works by contemporary artists Monique Crine, Shaun Leonardo, Catherine Opie and William Wylie.

All-star artists

In addition to these artists, others represented in the exhibition include Ernie Barnes, George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Harold Edgerton, Charles Dana Gibson, Laura Gilpin, Red Grooms, Lewis Hine, Eadweard Muybridge, Tod Papageorge, Robert Rauschenberg, Frederic Remington, Norman Rockwell, Diego Romero, Wayne Thiebaud and Andy Warhol.

This exhibition developed as curators discovered that a host of prominent American artists had pictured aspects of football and the public culture surrounding the sport, yet no focused art historical study had examined these images; in fact, very little research has addressed the large body of artworks that engage with sports.

The exhibition is not meant to present a history of football but instead offers a window to understanding themes central to American life, both past and current. The exhibition and the programs for Scrimmage explore these images from multiple perspectives and themes.

Football from every angle

Divided into eight sections, the exhibition looks at “Football: the Spectator Sport,” “Class, Race and Ethnicity,” “Football, Struggle, War and the ‘Strenuous Life,’” “Gender in Football: Women’s Roles,” “Football and Violence,” “The American Sport,” “Celebrity Culture and the Media,” and “Athleticism.” The University Art Museum invites visitors to engage in a dialogue – with works of important American artists as a springboard – about sports and art and their roles in our history and culture, and to reflect on how these images reveal attitudes and transitions in American life.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalog accompanies Scrimmage and will be available for purchase in the museum. In addition to artist entries, the book includes the following essays: Michael Oriard (emeritus professor, Oregon State University,) “The Popular Press and the Beginnings of American Football Art;” Albert Bimper (assistant professor and senior associate athletics director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement, CSU) “Black Pioneers: Transformations of the Color Line Across the Line-of-Scrimmage;” Robert Gudmestad (associate professor, CSU) “Patriot Games: Military Displays at Football Games;” Linny Frickman (University Art Museum) “Roosevelt’s ‘Strenuous Life’: the Masculine Model from Remington to Barney;” Danielle Knapp (Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art) “Making Landscapes, Building American Identities: Catherine Opie and High School Football.”

Scrimmage is also accompanied by a robust slate of special programs, artist lectures and gallery talks on exhibition themes and topics.

The exhibition was made possible by support from the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund, the FUNd Endowment at Colorado State, and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.