Bull City Summer: Baseball in February

People / Places / January 28, 2014

Sure, there’s a forecast of three to 10 inches of snow for North Carolina in the next 24 hours.

But that only means baseball’s not too far away.

And if the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), fresh from a ground-breaking exhibit of exotic Porsches, has its way, Triple-A ball will expedite its debut and arrive in late February.

That’s because on Feb. 23, Bull City Summer, a photography exhibition chronicling the 2013 season at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, will open. The project features works by Alec Soth, Hank Willis Thomas, Hiroshi Watanabe, Alex Harris, Frank Hunter, Kate Joyce, Elizabeth Matheson, Leah Sobsey, and Jeff Whetstone, and video artist Ivan Weiss. Starting with the Bulls’ home opener on April 8, 2013, the artists converged on the stadium to document all 72 home games.

“Sam Stephenson invited a group of photographers to photograph the last season,” says Linda Dougherty, NCMA’s Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art. “He timed it in conjunction with the anniversary of the movie Bull Durham, but it’s its own thing.”

It’s to be a collaborative show, with additional exhibits at the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh and at the American Tobacco Campus, a former network of tobacco warehouses now home to studios, restaurants and lofts.

A close-up look at the intimacy that Triple-A ball allows, Bull City Summer is a subtle and powerful group study of the obsessive routines and crafts of baseball, including those in the stands, concessions and behind the scenes.

“It’s a portrait of baseball traditions and community interaction between fans, players and those who work there,” she says. “It’s its own culture and universe.”

There will be color and black-and-white photography, along with video, picturing views of skies over the stadium, life in the scoring room, locker room close-ups, and baseball paraphernalia, .

“It’s not just about the game – people come together there for different reasons,” she says. “I go, and I could care less about baseball. It’s a social thing about talking to people and eating, rather than me being a big baseball fan.”

The show’s a reminder that snow is just a transient affair, while baseball is perennial. Moreover, a glimpse at the calendar reveals that opening day, wiht all its promise, is just around the corner.

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Mike Welton

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