Year – 2014
Size – 22″x34″
Medium – Black & white acrylic paint and colored pencil on gessoed board
Two of the great hallmarks in Charles Conlon’s unparalleled body of work are: 1) Batting-practice shots; and 2) Swing follow-throughs. Whether his subjects were legends or nobodys, the master was mesmerized by players taking their pregame cuts, and more often than not, he chose to focus his lens not on their initial stance or how bat met ball—but rather how they finished up. And never has there been a more graceful, dignified, powerful post-swing pose than that seen here of Larrupin’ Lou. The year was 1934—Gehrig’s Triple Crown campaign and his last season with Ruth. Oh, to have been there on the sidelines for history in the making. In their retrospective Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon, authors Neal and Constance McCabe set the scene: “Pregame photography was not nearly as dangerous as taking action photos during a game, but Conlon was still dodging foul balls and errant throws as he wandered through the relaxed anarchy of batting and fielding practice. While ball players jogged, stretched, chatted, and scanned the stands for pretty faces, he carried his large Graflex camera, along with his cumbersome supply of glass negatives.”
Though we modern-day fans can only dream of those halcyon early days at the House That Ruth Built, it is Adam Port’s unique artistic gift that he can vicariously transport us there by breathing new life into Conlon’s classic scene. Hyperrealistic detail, deft chiaroscuro, and sheer magnitude combine to manifest this ultimate portrait tribute to the mighty Iron Horse and his larger-than-life legacy. All the attributes of Conlonian expertise—composition, balance, symmetry, emotional intensity—are amplified in Adam’s hands.