A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Chicago Cubs to unveil 15 portraits at Wrigley by ‘baseball’s Van Gogh,’ NKy artist Gary Cieradkowski

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditEmail this to someone
One of Cieradkowskil's Cub's illustrations:  Jenkins

One of Cieradkowski’s Cub’s illustrations: Ferguson Jenkins

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Northern Kentucky artist and author Gary Cieradkowski — called “baseball’s Van Gogh” — has hit another home run with his widely acclaimed talent for capturing the likenesses of the sport’s iconic players.

As an artist he has achieved All-Star status already, but 15 portraits to be unveiled today — on the Chicago Cubs Opening Day — may land him in the proverbial Hall of Fame of baseball art.

Fifteen original 5-foot-tall illustrations by Cieradkowski will be unveiled at Wrigley Field as a permanent exhibit. The illustrations of Chicago Cubs great players were commissioned by the Cubs.

Gary Cierdkowski at a book signing for "The League of Outsider Baseball"

Gary Cieradkowski at a book signing for “The League of Outsider Baseball.”

The illustrations span the Chicago Cubs’ long history, from the famed “Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance” double play combo of the early 1900’s through to the Cubs newest Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux, Cieradkowski says.

Other Cubs legends include Hack Wilson, Chicago’s answer to Babe Ruth in the 1920’s, fan favorite Ron Santo and Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

The illustrations are part of year two of a multi-year restoration of Wrigley Field and will be displayed in the famed bleacher section beneath the iconic scoreboard.

“I’m very proud to say that my illustrations will be a permanent part of the famous bleacher section of this beautiful old park,” he says. “I worked closely with the Chicago Cubs to make the illustrations as accurate as possible. Some of the fun details include the little brown cubbie bear inside the ”C” on the 1908 uniforms and the white athletic tape Hack Wilson used on the handles of his bats.

“I found an actual bat used by Ernie Banks in 1959 to accurately depict the way his number ’14’ was hand written on the knob.

“Wrigley Field is almost as much of a star as the players in these illustrations, and I tried to show the evolution of this historic ball park in the backgrounds of each portrait.”

claro_Duany_3_zps5fju3zpu

Cieradkowski is — to understate — an avid baseball fan — more accurately he comes from a long line of diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fans.

“My grandfather was nuts about the Dodgers,” Cieradkowski said. “He refused to admit they moved to LA and until the day he died in 2002 he called them the ‘Brooklyn Dodgers,’ which was very confusing when I was a kid!”

As for Cieradkowski, he became a METS enthusiast as a youngster in New Jersey, having no other option since Yankee-hating also ran deep in the family.

He and his wife Andrea live in Ft. Thomas where he has established Cieradkowski Applied Art & Design. For over 25 years, he has worked with design and advertising firms around the country. The biography on his web site says he “designed the music department of Barnes & Noble, rebranded and repackaged the Folgers Coffee can, and designed the graphics for the new flagship Harley-Davison dealerships.”

And he has carved out a special niche in the baseball world, having created the environmental and prints graphics for Oriole Park at Camden Yards and published a book, “The League of Outsider Baseball,” a 240-page hardcover filled with “baseball’s forgotten heroes, barnstormers, journeymen, rogues and stars before they were famous.”

“Gary Cieradkowski is to me the most interesting artist working in baseball today. His bold graphic style recalls America’s poster kings of yore — Edward Penfield, J.C. Leyendecker, Fred G. Cooper — and his love of the game breathes new life into heroes long gone,” John Thorn, MLB historian, wrote about Cieradowski’s book.

Cieradkowski does extensive research on his subjects, aiming to stay true to their history.

garys book

The Dallas Morning News called his book “a hugely enjoyable volume filled with so many jaw-dropping facts that you will want to start reading from cover to cover.”

“To say I am a big baseball fan would be an understatement,” he says. “When my Father died suddenly this past fall, I lost my baseball pal. No longer did I have someone to talk about obscure players and trade baseball trivia with. I started a blog and (a baseball) card set as a way of continuing that friendship and sharing it with others.”

casey

The baseball card set is his “Infinite Baseball Card Set,” a continuous online card set with intricate, detailed illustrations and histories of famous — and obscure — baseball players.

The National Pastime Museum commissioned Cieradkowski to interpret the classic narrative poem, “Casey at the Bat.” Not content to just illustrate a single scene from the poem, he decided to create Mudville’s entire ball club.

See more details and read about how it came to be at his blog.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Related Posts

Leave a Comment