Red Bird Stadium and Emerson Burkhart

Our latest exhibition, Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart is opening on Wednesday, September 3.  Emerson Burkhart (1905-1969) ruled the Columbus art scene during the 1950s and 1960s with his honest portraits and depictions of life in the city.

Burkhart painting at Red Bird Stadium, 1948, Ohio History Connection Collections, AV 58.

Burkhart painting at Red Bird Stadium, 1948, Ohio History Connection Collections, AV 58.

While Burkhart was praised for his artistic skill, conflicts in his personal and professional life prevented him from receiving national attention.  Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart displays never seen artwork by Burkhart, including the original sketches for the controversial mural Music.

Emerson Burkhart documented life around Columbus, including a series of watercolors paintings done at Red Bird Stadium. Red Bird Stadium was the original  name for Cooper Stadium where the Columbus Red Birds, and later the Columbus Clippers, played.

Cooper Stadium was a landmark in the Columbus landscape. Opened in 1932, the stadium IMG_2279hosted several baseball teams and a football team. It was constructed based on blueprints for Red Wing Stadium in Rochester, New York, but was renovated in 1977 with the return of minor league baseball to Columbus. Though it held several names over the years, in 1984 the stadium was renamed in honor of Harold Cooper, the county commissioner who was responsible for keeping baseball in Columbus in the 1950s. Over the years, Cooper Stadium hosted several players who made it to the major leagues including Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter. On September 1, 2008, the final game was played by the Columbus Clippers in Cooper Stadium to a sell out crowd of 16,777. The Columbus Clippers moved to Huntington Park in 2009. Recently, it was announced part of the stadium would be demolished  for a new racetrack.

IMG_2282Emerson Burkhart documented life as he saw it happening on a daily basis. He helped preserved memories of life and places in Columbus that no longer exists. To see Burkhart’s portrayal of Red Bird Stadium, visit Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart.

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