Progressive’s Light Towers Become Works of Art
Vince Guerrieri | On 08, Oct 2013
To most Indians fans, the iconic feature of Progressive Field is the distinctive “toothbrush” light stanchions surrounding the field.
To Canadian artist S. Preston, they’re inspiration for a work of art.
Preston, now living in Southern California, has done computer-designed minimalist art of all 30 stadiums. The final series was released last week, and included the light towers that were unique in the Northern Hemisphere when the ballpark opened in 1994.
Preston picks an element from each stadium – the iconic façade of Yankee Stadium, the crown on top of the scoreboard at Kaufmann Stadium or the ivy at Wrigley Field – and uses it in a drawing.
“The goal of minimalist art is to identify the essence and identity of a subject and strip away the non-essential elements,” he said. “I tried to identify with elements that a true fan will know.”
Of the 30 stadiums he’s depicted, Preston’s only been to four – Safeco Field in Seattle and Petco Park, Dodger Stadium and the Big A in Anaheim since his move to California. He said Safeco, his hometown park growing up in Vancouver, was surprisingly difficult to draw to his own satisfaction, until he added something vastly different from the other pieces, most of which show vibrant green grass and bright blue sky.
“It really wasn’t coming together till I added the rain, and bingo, it because the Safeco I remember,” he said.
He said that baseball’s tradition and leisurely pace leads to a certain amount of decoration at stadiums. The recent construction boom, with stadiums that are supposed to hearken back to a bygone day, also provides artistic flourishes, like the Tiger statue he depicted for Comerica Park.
Preston said the art’s been well-received. The goal of minimalist art – really, all art – is to reach people and provide them the sense of knowing what it represents, and what it means to them. He presented his Rogers Centre drawing at Vancouver, and encountered a Blue Jays fan, who pulled out a ticket stub from the 1993 World Series, which ended on a home run by Joe Carter.
“It has been in his wallet for 20 years,” Preston said. “That’s what he thought when he saw my poster.”
Preston, who has no formal training as an artist, created alternate versions for Turner Field and AT&T Park. He said that he might go back and revisit some of the other ballparks for alternate views, since he got a lot of suggestions from baseball fans as he revealed his artwork on social media.
Preston says he’s a sucker for the underdog, counting as his favorite teams the Cubs and Blue Jays in baseball and Sabres and Canucks in hockey. But in October, he’s rooting for the Indians and Pirates. He’s a big fan of Terry Francona, saying that coaching can make all the difference, and he’d like to see the Bucs return to prominence after a 20-year losing streak.