About 10 years ago, Leif Hope, the Artists-Writers Softball Game’s impresario, had the idea for an exhibition at Guild Hall of the works of the myriad artists and writers who had played in this annual agon over the years.
“At first, I was offered a back room,” said Hope during a conversation Monday. “Now, they’re giving us the main gallery, and the show will run from June 15 to July 27.”
Hope had more or less given up on the idea when Sherrye Henry, who for 17 years had a WOR talk show, Deb McEneaney, and Walter Bernard picked up the ball and ran with it. “Elena Prohaska is also working on this,” said Hope, who added that he is reasonably sure the $25,000 to $40,000 needed to underwrite the show can be raised.
“We’re going to try to exhibit the artwork and books of as many of those who’ve played in The Game as we can,” he said.
The list is long, very long, and harks back to The Game’s origins some 60-plus years ago when it was contested by such art world luminaries as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline in the front yard of the sculptor Wilfrid Zogbaum’s house in Springs.
Of those early days, Philip Pavia, a slugging sculptor to whom the first disguised grapefruit was served up by Kline, once said, “We played like the Brooklyn Dodgers. You know, a runner on first and second and somebody hits a home run and passes the ones ahead of him. Girls played, lots of them, but they didn’t care. They ran backwards sometimes. It was the start of the feminist movement!”
“At first, my idea was to feature the works of all the artists who’ve played, but then I thought I should include the writers too,” said Hope. “They’re the ones after all who have all the celebrity: Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Irwin Shaw, George Plimpton, Willie Morris, Jay McInerney, Walter Isaacson, Peter Maas, Avery Corman, Wilfrid Sheed, Richard Reeves . . . people like that.”
The artists whose works may be displayed — aside from the above-named — presumably include Esteban Vicente, Jimmy Ernst, Eric Ernst, Syd Solomon, Joan Mitchell, Herman Cherry, John Alexander, Paul Davis, Dan Christensen, Elwood Howell, Randy Rosenthal, Billy Hofmann, and Hope himself.