Canton Museum of Art Celebrates the Return of Football with “Scrimmage” Exhibit

The Canton Museum of Art presents “Scrimmage: Football in American Art from the Civil War to Present” now through Oct. 29 at the Stark County venue.

Tue 8/1-Sun 10/29

The eyes of the football world turn to Canton once again this week for the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. However, art lovers are also invited to enjoy in the gridiron festivities like never before at the Scrimmage: Football in American Art from the Civil War to Present exhibit appearing now through Sun 10/29 at the Canton Museum of Art.

Billed as the first comprehensive assembly of work by prominent American artists focusing on football, the new exhibition features 60 pieces including paintings, prints, sculptures and new media exploring themes such as race, teamwork and competition.

CoolCleveland talked to Canton Museum of Art director of marketing & communications Rob Lehr about the exhibit, its appeal to art lovers and tailgating.

Gee, an art museum in Canton hosting an exhibit on football. What a stretch.

Right. We were pretty excited to find out about the exhibit because we knew it would be such a good fit especially with the Enshrinement Festival. This is a touring exhibit that came from Colorado. Originally they had reached out to actually borrow a piece from our permanent collection. When we found out it was Scrimmage, we were like we have to find a way to get that to Canton. So they made arrangements for it to travel. It was one of those things where it all ended up coming together and worked out timing wise for us to have it.

Tell us what’s so unique and appealing about Scrimmage: Football in American Art from the Civil War to Present.

The exhibit is about football and American art, but what’s so interesting about it is it’s not just about the history of football. It takes each of these artists’ perspectives and intertwines into the actual exhibit itself. It’s divided up into different sections, which deals with a little bit about women in football and some race relations in football. There’s some social- political aspects that are very interesting. In addition to that, it has some major names like Norman Rockwell to Andy Warhol. There are things here that art lovers will appreciate just being able to see some of the works. But in addition to that, it teaches the art audience a little bit more about football. And in some ways maybe people who would usually kind of seek out football themes, exhibits or other things, they’ll learn a little bit about the artists and the whole fine art end of things too. We’re also going to have an exhibit in the lobby called Helmets: Evolution of the Game. That’s going to have different types of helmets from the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s collection. You’ll see the evolution of how the helmet changed.

How does Scrimmage fit into the Canton Museum of Art’s mission?

We look for exhibits that both interest people, but also challenge people in different ways and teach them different things about art and culture. So I feel like it really follows in the footsteps in some of the exhibits we’ve had in the past. Also we’re looking for things that have an appeal to our different audiences. We want to make sure we’re serving our different audiences in the community. Our kind of motto around here is “Where art meets life.” Really, we look at that as a starting point for any exhibit we put together. Different people will come away with different things.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, can we tailgate in the parking lot before taking in Scrimmage?

You know, we’re going to have a bunch of fun things happening in the parking lot and green area around the museum. We’re interested in capturing the culture in many different ways.

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