By Rod Smith
Currently showing at Weinstein Gallery, David Rathman's football paintings are everything you don't expect art about contact sports to be: gentle, mysterious, and profoundly surreal. The nationally lauded, Montana-born-and-raised, Minneapolis-based artist explains how they came about.
City Pages: Are dust and distance metaphors for the passage of time in your paintings? Or is it more of an aesthetic thing?
David Rathman: More of the latter. Last night, a guy at the gallery commented that they kind of reminded him of what's going on in Iraq, that there's something soldier-like about them. I liked that. But I'm most interested in the flatness of the planes, the lighting, things like that. Same as with my cowboy paintings. Then I try to make it all click with the subject matter.
CP: Do you work mostly from memory?
DR: This time I went back to Montana and shot a lot of photographs. But there's a lot of memory there as well, mostly from watching high school football games from the sidelines. Memory of the landscape also plays a big role. I'm interested in what happens just before and after the definitive moment.
CP: How would you feel if you went to somebody's house and saw a Rathman hanging next to a Neiman?
DR: That would be interesting. He actually might be an interesting person to talk to. When I was at MCAD, I wanted to be an illustrator. I've done illustration. I have nothing against LeRoy Neiman. But his work is mostly about surface and the big moment. I can see why people like it. But when you're an artist, you go, "Nahhh, I don't want to do that. That's not a good step."
"David Rathman: Home and Away" is at Weinstein Gallery through March 10. Free. Noon to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 908 W. 46th St., Minneapolis; 612.822.1722.