The West Side Tennis Club, Art by Normandie Syken

Pen and ink drawing, watercolor. The real world, the artist’s imagination. Life’s drift or dialogue between the two. Normandie Syken’s Junior Tennis mixes a childhood world of innocence with moments of hard-to-pin-down adult introspection. Soft washes of watercolor are everywhere. Tennis balls dot the courts like an impressionist’s flowers. Overly large figures of adult authority—the tennis pros—are seemingly made kinder, gentler by both the task they undertake and the surrounding pastoral grass.

Painted entirely in watercolor, the Westside’s iconic tudor house looms quietly in the background, a silent witness to 60 years of US National Championships—later the US Open—from 1915-1977. Half-enchanted by Syken’s painting, I imagine this historic clubhouse as some godlike, omniscient depository of memory; its two all-seeing eyes suggested by Syken’s paint watch player after player from the past: Arthur Ashe who wrote “A Hard Road to Glory,” his three-volume history of the black athlete; Billie Jean King who confessed: I couldn’t get a closet deep enough. I’ve got a homophobic family, a tour that will die i(f I come out, the world is homophobic and, yeah, I was homophobic; Bobby Riggs and Don Budge, the two best players in the world, who played in the service during WWII a few miles away from where The Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima; Althea Gibson who boxed with her father on the rooftops of Harlem; Chris Evert whose two-handed backhand sparked a revolution. Did do will you and your children hit it, too?

The Westside Tennis Club. Syken’s Art. Reality or Imagination?

More Paintings of The West Side Tennis Club from Normandie Syken

Normandie Syken, Wioletta and Sarah’s Match
Normandie Syken, Singles Match

Artist Bio: Normandie Syken is an illustrator from Queens, New York.  She attended the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and earned her BFA in the illustration program at the School of Visual Arts.  Her work has been displayed in galleries and public places such as the SVA Chelsea Gallery and the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation.  Recently her artist’s books, prints and illustrations have been acquired by established collections across the U.S. and the U.K..  Normandie likes to draw from life and her imagination using pen and watercolor as well as experimenting with different printmaking techniques. If you see her around she is probably drawing your portrait in her sketchbook. In addition to visiting her website, you can see much of her work on instagram.

You can visit the website for the Westside Tennis Club at Forest Hills for more information on this historic club and its current activities.

3 replies on “The West Side Tennis Club, Art by Normandie Syken”

I’m currently looking at the club and stadium from my roof! I love the playful rendering of this painting. It perfectly captures the architecture and energy of the place, especially in the Summer when lessons and friendly matches between players of all ages are in full swing.

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