We are right smack in the middle of the NFL Playoffs. I realize that is a really exciting time for a lot of people all over the world and many people of whom follow my work. I am what you definitely would call a "casual football fan". I watch and enjoy games occasionally but am by no means a rabid sports fan.
I grew up in Minnesota, home of the Vikings. As a kid growing up as fall approaches, you hear a lot about what to expect from the Vikings in the upcoming season. Truth be told, I was much more of a soccer fan than football but did get excited about the team's prospects of the upcoming season.
Throughout my fifteen years as a professional artist, I have painted a few stadiums and arenas from around the country. I have painted Fenway Park, Century Link Field, Safeco Field, Wrigley Field and, something that can rile every Vikings' fan, Lambeau Field.
However, my paintings are not really about the venue per se but rather the environment and the people participating in the scene. As with all my paintings, I am fascinated with the neighborhoods, shops, restaurants and people that all together, encompass the art. In other words, the painting with Lambeau Field is entitled, "Sunday Afternoon - Green Bay". The painting is about the situation of a huge sports venue in the middle of a middle class, working neighborhood. That fascinates me.
Recently, I completed work on the Vikings new venue, U.S. Bank Stadium. Yet, as with my other work, I wanted it to be more about the excitement surrounding an event at the stadium rather than the stadium itself. As with "Sunday Afternoon - Green Bay", I wanted to call this piece, "Calm Before the Purple Storm". Again, about the feeling of the atmosphere of a big sports game rather than the stadium itself.
I understand that Vikings fans are not particularly fond of Packer fans and vice versa. Sports bring out strong emotions in a lot of people. That is what I want to capture in my paintings - emotions. "Sunday Afternoon - Green Bay", for me, captures those emotions and the spirit of fans and the rituals they perform before and during games. It has nothing to do with being a "fan" of a particular team but rather an interpretation of a scene that embodies all of what I seek when approaching a project.
If you have ever been to some of these places like Wrigley Field in Chicago or Fenway Park in Boston, they are sports cathedrals that are as important as the game being played within them. They are centers of neighborhoods that become teeming with vibrant life whenever a game takes place. They are special places, almost sacred, to many people. That's why we hear them referred to as such whenever a game is on tv.
So my "sports" paintings are, in my mind, not much different than any other paintings I create. I am always trying to find special places - ones that have some connection to people. Whether that is a dive bar in Seattle or the Ryder Cup fans at Hazeltine, it is always about trying my best to capture and interpret the personality and uniqueness that connects them to the people. Hopefully, I have accomplished that and will continue to do so whatever my subject matter may be.
Please join Michael Birawer for Art-A-Whirl 2019!
Friday, May 17th 5pm-10pm
Saturday, May 18th Noon-8pm
Sunday, May 19th Noon-5pm