Creativity Game

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JCO’s Place presents ‘The Art of the NFL’

It makes sense that Levi’s Stadium, which was ultimately built by San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, is more than just a football stadium. York’s grandfather, Edward DeBartolo, Sr., helped create the modern shopping mall, and was America’s undisputed mall king for 50 years. Just as the elder Mr. D. reinvented shopping, his grandson is reinventing the sporting experience.
Levi’s Stadium has been hailed as a New New Thing, the sports arena of the future. It’s the most high-tech stadium in the world, completely wired for wireless. In addition to a gourmet restaurant and high-end bar, it has 20,000 square feet of solar panels and a green roof.

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The stadium also has an extensive art collection featuring football-themed artworks, as well as local landscapes and even abstract work by area artists. Not just on display in an on-site museum, these artworks are everywhere throughout the stadium.

Several of the artists featured at Levi’s Stadium are participating in a show that opens this month in Los Gatos: The Art of the NFL: Super Bowl 50, at JCO’s Place for Fine Art. It’s an unusual theme for a show at a serious gallery, which JCO’s certainly is, and yet appropriate given that the Super Bowl is happening in our backyards.

End-Zone, oil on canvas, 48" x 54"

End-Zone, oil on canvas, 48″ x 54″

Gallery Director Bridget McMahon says her boss, longtime art dealer Julie Jenkins, took note of the collection at the stadium and “was totally blown away.”

Jenkins was impressed that at Levi’s Stadium, the experience of going to a game was transformed into an art experience, and further impressed that the curation was thoughtful, featured mostly local artists and showed a wide diversity of styles.

“She was inspired to have those artists create pieces that people could have in their own homes,” McMahon says. “The work of 23 artists are on display at the stadium—20 from the Bay Area. We have some of these artists showing similar pieces, and also some of JCO’s favorite artists.

“One thing that was important to us when we were putting the show together was being mindful of the spirit that makes the 49ers so different and makes Levi’s Stadium so different.”

While none of the artworks in the show will remind you of LeRoy Neiman, the famed sports expressionist, several of the artists have focused on the subject of sports.

Stanley Silver’s work ranges from boldly colorful abstract watercolors to imaginatively rendered oil portraits. He’s served as the “official artist” for many sporting events, including baseball’s World Series. His piece for this show, “The Snap,” captures a gritty detail of the game.

Tom Mosser is another painter whose portraits of sports stars have won him numerous awards. He has invented a wild style of working that he calls “ambidextrous impressionism”—he paints with both hands at once. To top that, he uses objects instead of brushes: For this show he has contributed a piece he painted with footballs. (!) Mosser will give a live demonstration at the show’s opening reception.

Several other artists in the show have not focused on sports previously. Derek Gores is a Florida-based artist whose paper-collage works range in subject matter from pop culture (his clients include U2 and Madonna) to gay marriage. For the Levi’s Stadium collection Gores contributed a California state flag he created out of old 49ers game tickets, season schedules, game-day programs and kids’ drawings.

Gordon Smedt, a Los Gatos native who has shown at JCO’s Place several times, paints ordinary objects in a way that gives them a sort of personality.

“I approach my objects as if they are people,” he says. Smedt’s old-fashioned pair of high-top cleats do indeed seem to have a story to tell.

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The Art of Giving
A portion of the proceeds from the exhibit and sale is being donated to the 49ers Foundation, which has contributed over $30 million to various community groups over the past 23 years. The Foundation organizes events throughout Northern California, often featuring current or former players, focused on a mission of encouraging kids to be “Safe, On Track, and In School.”
Niners legend Dwight Clark, a frequent participant in 49ers Foundation events, will be at JCO’s Place for the opening reception.

‘Art of the NFL: Super Bowl 50’ shows at JCO’s Place for Fine Art, 45 N. Santa Cruz Ave., until Feb. 7, with an opening reception Thursday, Jan. 14, 7-9pm.

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