Seeing the Big Picture
This summer, Creative Art Works partnered with Madison Square Boys & Girls Club (MSB&GC) to provide our Public Art Youth Employment experience to fourteen young Boys and Girls Club members. MSB&G selected a long interior corridor overlooking the soccer pitch at their brand-new Pinkerton Club House in Harlem for the location of a new mural.
Tim McChristian, Madison Square Boys & Girls Club Executive Director and self-described “sports guy” suggested Giants Stadium as the subject of the mural, as the Clubhouse is adjacent to the Polo Grounds. While the legacy of Willie Mays and the New York Giants still looms large over the neighborhood, it has been over fifty years since Giants Stadium was razed to make way for the Polo Grounds Towers, so the design process began with a deep dive into history. For our Youth Apprentices, who range between 16 to 21-years-old, the storied past of the Polo Grounds was a revelation.
A View from Above
The mural recounts the development of the Polo Ground from its origins as an actual polo pitch in the 1880’s, to it’s transition to a baseball stadium in the 1890’s, to the golden era of baseball when the NY Giants was one of the first teams major league teams to integrate (ushering in Willy Mays’ record-tying 24 All-Star Games), and ending with the construction of the Polo Grounds Towers. Each panel depicts an aerial view of the Polo Grounds captured with contemporary technology for each era, including hot air balloons, a bi-plane, a moon rocket, and a drone.
Two large-scale paintings accompany the mural. A mixture of representational and abstract elements, they represent the integration of boardgames and video games with sports. Madison Square Boys and Girls Club values of play and striving for excellence are reflected across all three works of art.
Meet the Team
Madison Square Boys & Girls Club Executive Director
I want to thank [CAW Teaching Artists] Michael Mitchell and Ny Chhorm for their coaching, because they built a great team. Most of you [Youth Apprentices] didn’t know each other before this summer, and you were put together in a room, and you were told you had to come up with a product in six weeks. I saw you working hard every day. Sometimes you were smiling, sometimes you weren’t, but you knew there was an outcome you wanted to deliver, so you kept at it, and now we all get to see what you’ve created. I am very proud of all of you.”
I would like to thank Michael and Ny for working with me this summer, because I really like art, and it was awesome to wake up every morning and come over here and work on this mural. My favorite part was painting the buildings. I grew up in Polo Grounds, so it was nice to see my projects on the wall. Learning about the history of this place was a big surprise for me, because it showed me that there is more to the Polo Grounds than people think.
“I like the way I’m growing as a person. I never used to listen to anybody. I never wanted to do what I was supposed to do, but now I understand as you get older, a whole lot of things change. You’ve got to move different.”
"Something I learned by working on these paintings and working with CAW is that everyone has an inner artist. I came here with no prior art experience, thinking I wasn’t going to enjoy myself, but Mr. Mitchell showed me my drawings were art and they could be turned into something beautiful."
Read the bios of all our CAW Youth Apprentices from the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club Mural Project in the Commemorative Brochure
All photos by Shay Epps. Copyright 2019 Creative Art Works. All rights reserved.