Off to the Wickets

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on September 22nd, 2010

In previous blogs my colleagues discussed preparations for the opening of this year’s Birds in Art exhibition. I thought it important to examine one of the more serious associated events. It involves artists and the highly competitive sport of croquet.

The tradition of Birds in Art artists playing croquet began innocently many years ago. Artists travel north to Hazelhurst each year after Saturday morning Museum appearances. This annual retreat allows artists to spend time with one another in a relaxed atmosphere. Activities include boat rides, swimming, nature walks, and a few sporting events, all available to help break the ice and encourage relaxation.

Pickup games of shuffleboard, volleyball, and croquet are common activities. It’s become the norm to hear cheering, laughter, and occasional playful taunting. Croquet competition kicked up a notch this year with the introduction of a traveling trophy dubbed the “Purple Mallet.” Rumor has it that the trophy was fabricated from plywood, paint, plastic, and includes a green furry hedgehog that draws its croquet reference from “Alice in Wonderland.” (The rumor comes from a reliable source: me. I made it.)

Artist competitors in this year’s tourney included printmaker Andrea Rich, wood sculptor Larry Barth, and painters Wes Hyde and Allen Blagden. Competition was fierce; terms like “poison” and “you’re going down” were bandied about.

Following a long and hard-fought game, the dust finally settled. Larry Barth claimed bragging rights as winner of the coveted Purple Mallet. I was honored to present the award to Mr. Barth in an elaborate ceremony on the steps of the Porta Lisa (an upscale porta potty).

Congratulations Larry on your auspicious win, and good luck defending your title in 2011.

Special thanks to Jennifer Kasbohm for prodding me to make the trophy and to Jennifer and Cindy House for monitoring the competition to see that game rules were loosely followed.

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