Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Play ball

Art and sports hit it off during second annual celebration

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Gazette photo
Committee members at the Frederick Cultural Arts Center select "Art in the Park" baseballs to be auctioned at an upcoming Keys baseball game in Frederick, MD. Committee member Russell Beaton weighs the merits of an entry.

In an effort to show art and sports really can mix, Harry Grove Stadium will once again be teeming with artists before the first pitch is even thrown Friday when Art in the Park returns to Frederick.

The second annual event, sponsored by the Frederick Arts Council, hopes to raise awareness for local arts groups and funds for the council, while serving as a culmination to the popular "Art's a Ball" project that featured more than 850 baseballs decorated and displayed around town.

"We really wanted to fuse art into the baseball game," said Shuan Butcher, executive director of the arts council.

Art in the Park kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday with strolling actors and artists from local troupes such as The Maryland Shakespeare Festival, The Frederick Children's Chorus, and The Fredericktowne Players. Featuring hands-on activities for children and a chance to see what local groups have to offer, area artists are hoping to showcase their talent.

"When people come to the game, they're thinking about sports. But we want them to also be thinking about the arts opportunities in the county since both are important quality of life issues," Butcher said.

In addition to game day activities, Friday also culminates the successful "Art's a Ball" project launched when Keys management was looking for a way to commemorate the baseball organization's 20th anniversary.

Keri Scrivani, assistant general manager of marketing for the Keys, said she wanted a unique way to celebrate the anniversary.

"This is all fantastic because it's two totally different communities coming together," she said of the event.

Both Butcher and Scrivani came up with the idea to hand out baseballs to local professionals and amateurs to decorate for the event. More than 850 baseballs were distributed several months ago to area schools and clubs, local celebrities and artists from throughout the region.

"The designs and artwork that came back were amazing," Butcher said.

Alan Mulendore, who has a degree in fine arts but admits that he doesn't get much of an opportunity to use it, decorated baseballs for the event.

"It was absolutely fun to do and good and refreshing for me," said Mulendore, who also served on the Art in the Park committee.

One of the artist's baseballs resembled a $100 bill, while another was a "screwball" – a play on words.

Many artists took the opportunity to paint the balls as a play on words – making "fowl" balls and "fly" balls, and others transformed into hot dogs and crabs and incorporated into large paintings.

Over the past several weeks, the baseballs have been on display throughout Frederick for public viewing. Most will be offered for auction during Friday's game. Proceeds will go toward the Frederick Arts Council, which funds art-related groups and projects around the county.

"It was a great way to see the hidden talent in the county. I'm looking forward to the game and event [on Friday]," Mulendore said.

Art in the Park When: 6 p.m. Friday Where: Harry Grove Stadium, 21 Stadium Drive, Frederick For information: 301-662-4190