'Score' seeks to yoke sport with art

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 13, 2014

By Felicia Feaster


In the high school scheme of things, we tend to think of the artists and the jocks on opposite sides of the cafeteria. But the exhibition “Score: Artists in Overtime,” curated by Hope Cohn at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, makes the case for some surprising parallels between the creatives and the team players.

Multiple artists in “Score” see a shared investment among athletes and artists in intense concentration, repetition, obsessiveness, stamina and solitude — attributes all required for the job at hand. Other artists examine the mechanics and meaning of sports, offering thoughtful examination of this national preoccupation.

Painter Meg Aubrey is one of the stand-outs in this large group show of 20 artists. The juicy colors of her paintings — all blue skies, green playing fields and prosperous-looking, content people — convey the comfort and sense of community that team spirit can provide. Her subjects mug for some unseen camera at tailgate parties and dress in identical sports team colors, toting beers on the way to a sporting event.

Her work captures the ferocious intensity that can surround sports, evident in an image like “The Fans,” where a cadre of mothers sit on the sidelines at a youth sporting event, one of them raising the kind of massive camera to her eye that suggests a war-time photojournalist. Aubrey has always been a gimlet-eyed chronicler of the lockstep tendencies of the suburbs, but here she enlarges her scope, capturing with humor and intelligence the loss of self, group-think and blind allegiance in suburban sports culture.

There are many artists who have something significant to say in “Score,” including Michael Peterson, an accomplished artist who creates incisive sculptures on topics from the use of Native American iconography in sports to the vulnerability of sports figures when their careers end.

Also finding vulnerability in unexpected places, artist Joe Peragine captures a strange delicacy and quiet in his watercolors of high school wrestlers. Substituting the echoing cheers and intensity of competition, Peragine focuses in on the wrestlers, their bodies intertwined, the concentration and also the pathos in their situation.

You might expect cynicism in a show like this and that might be “Score’s” real coup: finding the subtext and significance in sports. Jerry Siegel’s photographs are representative of that message, documenting the gravity of youth sports in the South. But his color photographs also capture a theme of pure hopefulness that often underlies these heady, intense, joyful pursuits.