Great art provokes. It asks questions that might make you uncomfortable. Questions such as: “What if Washington Nationals/Senators pitching legend Walter Johnson had four arms?” This question is asked, and answered, in Omri Amrany’s sculpture of Johnson that was unveiled at Nationals Park this morning.
Amrany also donated extra limbs to Senators great Frank Howard, who attended the ceremony. Howard’s sculpture also has four arms, but he is swinging five bats.
Howard is a human mountain. After talking to the press and fans, he took a bite out of one of the halfstreet.com buildings across the street, pounded his chest, and leaped over the Potomac. I didn’t get a photo of that because I was running down the street screaming like a girl.
Negro Leagues great Josh Gibson was also honored with a four-armed statue. All three statues will great fans who enter via the center gate.
“Well, that’s different,” said the guy behind me when the Gibson stat was unveiled. Before that, while Nats employees held onto the drapes for dear life and a succession of city government types recognized half of the attendees, one by one, for their contribution to this public-art coup, Amrany explained that he had tried to evoke the feel of old black-and-white newspaper photos with his bronzes. The bronze, he said, “will give us the romantic past.”
Amrany is a fabulous man who wore a herringbone jacket and a scarf with a complicated knot.
Speaking of the United States after World War II, he said, “Sports brought this nation into the nation that saved the world.” I’m not sure how, but I cheered inwardly.
Walter Kravitz, a professor at George Mason, also spoke. His installed sculpture, Ballgame, is at the first base entrance. Kravitz, too, is a spectacular man. He has swept-back auburn hair. I like him, and his sculpture, quite a bit.
Ballgame’s imagery, the press kit says, “is derived from Walter’s memory of watching games throughout his life.”
I took a wee video of the installation, which features a version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” whirring away.
On my way out I broke away from the pack and discovered where the Nats are imprisoning the life-sized bobbleheads of the racing presidents. Not cool, Nats!