Cathryn Bozone X The Atlanta Braves
Updated: Jan 31
I had the honor this weekend to be a featured artist for the third year in a row at the Atlanta Braves' 2020 ChopFest. ChopFest is a fun event during their off-season where they invite fans to come to the stadium and participate in rare opportunities such as running the bases on field, catching fly balls in the outfield, and getting autographs from their favorite players.
This year I created a mural of Ronald Acuña Jr., one of the teams younger, newer players that has won the fans' hearts. I was excited to draw the Venezuelan outfielder and commemorate the time he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in post season. I will say this past weekend–despite the high being 45 degrees–was one of my favorite ChopFests so far.
The Empty Stadium
Of course, on this very cold day, I got up at 6AM to prepare. Truist Park has strict security - as you would have guessed- and I had to be there by 7:30 (35 degrees) to be let in a very specific gate and park in a very specific parking lot. My outfit as planned: two pairs of socks with my retro Reeboks on top, leggings with snap joggers on top, a long sleeve shirt that features a knock-off Shepard Fairey design, a track jacket, and my old, Alpha Gamma Delta fuzzy-lined wind-breaker on top of that. These topped with a scarf, a beanie, a full glove on my left hand, and a fingerless glove (for drawing) on my right. All of which either have paint stains or chalk stains on them. At one point a guy offered to get me some skiis because "it looks like [I was] about to go on the slopes". lol
I successfully arrived by 8AM (still 35 degrees wind chill lower than 30) and got extremely confused and lost - setting my arrival time at a punctual 8:30. After wondering around and asking multiple Braves employees who had no idea what "chalk art" I was talking about - I finally found the weird back-gate, while lugging my fancy "Vans Off The Wall" chalk bag that weighs about 45 pounds. Please note-I have been to this event two times before and was still as confused as ever - that is how high my navigational skills are!
Of course once I got set up and got going everything went smoothly. I always put a grid down so I can gauge my proportions correctly. One of my favorite parts of the day is in the very early morning when the stadium is closed. The wind is so cold and the air is so quite- and I'm in an empty stadium. Who gets to say that they've had that experience (other than the employees...)? There is something about standing there in the silence and cold, watching your own breath while looking out over an empty stadium and field. I always like to take a moment to enjoy the serenity- and then get to work.
Chalk & Curly Fries
My initial plan was to chalk the photo reference provided by The Braves with its original life-like colors. Thats what the other artists were doing. After checking my chalk box and realizing that I rarely carry skin-tone colors because my color palette is never "normal" I decided to wing it and go with my normal style - fun!
I chose bright blue and yellow as the pops of color I would include. I didn't do my normal smooth blends in the image because the concrete had weird vertical texture - making it difficult to blend colors. I decided to go with a more "rough" cross-hatching technique that proved not only to layer colors better, but to go a lot quicker too.
The blue color was appropriate because of the lack of feeling in my fingers and my butt due to the cold. I knew I looked like the kid from A Christmas Story but didn't care- as long as I could chalk! At one point I took a break and had the best curly fries every. They were hot, seasoned, and gave my numb booty some life. And curly fries are just better anyways.
I think kids are so funny. Multiple times I heard toddlers inquisit why "the man was blue". To which the parents would respond that it was the artists creativity. Although one kid decided it was because he was "so cold". The cute comments and multiple parents yanking their kids back just in time to keep them from stepping on the chalk was enough to make me giggle.
"No - Not the Blue Man Group..."
I received a lot of compliments and a lot of admiration. I overall was happy to be able to make fans happy and excited and in my own style too. I ended up being featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution the next day in the Sports section. Fans are excited about this up coming season and about Acuña and I'm glad I could be a part of it - even if people thought I was drawing the Blue Man Group at one point.
When I finished I happily went home and took a long, hot shower, warmed my bum, and was satisfied with my final piece. A lot of people ask me if I'm sad to depart with a chalk mural - since it is so temporary and I can't take it with me. My answer? Not at all. I'm happy to create a moment–to create an installation where the value is heightened because it can only be experienced for a temporary amount of time. I think there is a lot of value in being able to let go of an experience and more forward to the next one.
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