If you want a wide range of compelling art about tennis, Jeffrey Sparr is an artist you need to know. As a four year starter on Ohio State’s tennis team, Jeff turned to art as therapy in response to mental health challenges. He then Co-founded PeaceLove Foundation, an organization that equips human service workers with the curriculum and supplies to facilitate workshops that jumpstart conversations about mental wellness. Jeff’s art on tennis is that of a tennis insider. He understands the sport well and knows lots of players and coaches in the tennis world. His art on tennis is witty, accessible, moving, profound. Please find below some examples.
This category includes numerous stylish images of women on tennis courts, most influenced by what we might call the Virginia Slims style. Smoking, of course, is out, but the glamour of this time period remains. “On the Move” below includes the meaning that women are moving forward. Tennis, as we know, was perhaps the single most important world sport in in its advocacy for equal rights and equal pay. Tennis, of course, was and is a glamour sport for women where tennis and fashion mix.
Tennis Balls: Can’t Play Without
Like popular culture in Andy Warhol’s art, tennis balls are everywhere in Jeffrey Sparr’s “Tennis Balls” series. Different colors. Different patterns, Different uses. Different meanings. Meanings, of course, are for the viewer to decide. Here are two paintings below.
Tennis Cocktails: I love how witty, how fun, these are. “First Serve” has a cocktail glass that also looks like a tennis racquet. It’s signed by that great Italian player: “Martini.” “Second Serve” places two martinis together with the tennis racquet as a service platter. That’s a bit more upscale than the door used as a service platter in the foreground of Breugel’s A Peasant Wedding.
Grand Slams: Sparr also has a variety of paintings representing all the grand slams: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. The one below is on the French Open at Roland Garros. It features the clay as paint on the canvas with a variety of marks that represent both the painter’s brush and energy as well as all the movements the players make on the clay. Very stylish.
Hall of Fame Moments: Inspired by the History of the Game: Many tennis paintings here, including “Battle of the Sexes,” “Fred Perry,” “Pancho Gonzalez and James Allen,” “Teddy Tinling.” The one below is on Arthur Ashe’s huge upset over Connors in the 1975 Wimbledon final.
Male Fashion: Jeffrey Sparr and Bud Collins were good friends. No surprise, then, that the most famous pants in tennis are memorialized below in Sparr’s tribute to the late Bud Collins.
About the Artist (taken from JeffreySparr.com)
A mental health advocate and self-taught artist, Jeffrey Sparr was a four-year starter and team captain on the Ohio State University tennis team. When he graduated in 1985, he was the 3rd winningest player in Ohio State History. Diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in college, Jeff battled with this disease for many years before discovering, on a whim, that painting dramatically subdued the symptoms of his OCD, providing a creative outlet and sense of control. Sparr has been crowned the “Forrest Gump” of painting: Forrest didn’t stop running, Sparr hasn’t stopped painting. This discovery changed the course of Jeff’s life. Ever since then, Jeff has been on a mission to help others through the arts, founding, along with his cousin, the nonprofit organization PeaceLove. You can learn more about Jeff Sparr’s art and work as a mental health advocate on his website.
For those looking for an easier way to find emotional relief, PeaceLove is the no-pressure self-care method whose simple creative activities foster a more joyful journey to peace of mind. Through their on-demand classes and kits, they offer a safe, enjoyable way to relieve anxiety, stress, and tension. Through their CREATORS program, they train front line professionals in their approach and curriculum so they can help people express what’s going on inside when finding the words feels tough. CREATORS are facilitating vital emotional healing in the schools, hospitals, prisons, and community centers where help is needed most. You can learn more about the great work PeaceLove does with its many partners on their website.
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