The Canton Museum of Art will debut an exhibition about football just in time for Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls.
“Scrimmage: Football in American Art from the Civil War to the Present” will open August 1 and will remain on display through October. The collection includes more than 60 pieces that look at the history of football in art and address issues related to gender, race and health.
While the exhibition is up, the museum’s education gallery will house a Pro Football Hall of Fame installation that celebrates Stark County. In the lobby will be curated pieces from the Hall and a display that shows the evolution of the football helmet.
Max Barton, the museum’s executive director, said the collection’s sports theme makes the exhibition comfortable and familiar for people who don’t consider themselves art lovers.
“It makes it very accessible to everyone,” he said. “I think this topic, it lends itself to our community, just from our history.”
Sample images show the exhibition will feature paintings, etchings, photographs, sculpture, video and football cards lined with beads. The pieces come from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Figge Art Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Rockwell Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts—Houston, Yale University, the Canton Museum of Art and public and private collections, according to the Canton Museum of Art’s website.
Some of the more familiar artists featured in the exhibition are Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell.
The exhibition was organized through a partnership between the art museum at Colorado State University and the art museum at the University of Oregon. Someone from Colorado called the Canton Museum of Art asking to borrow a 1972 lithograph called “Forward Pass” for the exhibition, and Barton asked whether the show might be able to travel to Canton, even though it wasn’t packaged as a touring exhibition. He expressed his gratitude to community partners, such as the Hall and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, for their help.
When Colorado State University announced the exhibition two years ago, it was called “the first comprehensive survey of work by prominent American artists who have pictured football and its public culture.” And the University of Oregon’s write-up about the exhibition said the collection was not meant to chronicle the history of the game of football but to look at how football art speaks to changes in American culture.
The art falls into eight categories: “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.”
“It gets you to ask a couple of questions,” Barton said.