A canvas by Sarasota County Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Rankin, who’s only been making art for two years, will potentially be seen by hundreds of thousands of people before it comes off the wall approximately one baseball season from now.
Rankin and five other artists were chosen by Creative Pinellas and the Tampa Bay Rays to create 6×6 foot canvases celebrating the team, and iconic moments in Rays history, for the 25th anniversary season. All six colorful works are on display at Tropicana Field, on the 100-level concourse on the first and third base sides.
Several of the artists were in attendance as the work was unveiled prior to the Rays/Yankees game Aug. 25.
“I will always tell people, follow your dreams,” Rankin said. “Two years ago I told my wife I was supposed to be an artist years ago.”
His mixed media canvas combines digital imagery with drawing and painting. The sponsoring groups, he explained, charged him with “coming up with something that’s meaningful and symbolic, but represents that legacy up to this point – and hopefully has appeal and is eye-catching.”
For Rankin, this particular commission had special significance. “This is my 25th anniversary with the fire department,” he said. “When I got hired, I remember sitting at the station, and reading about this new baseball team as we’re all having coffee; all the guys were talking about it.
“And on the day I was notified I’d be doing this piece, I was here presenting the colors at the Yankees game, with the Sarasota County Fire Department Honor Guard.”
Tampa artist Kendel Woods opted to illustrate “Pride and the Rays.” He submitted three ideas, and the sponsors chose the one they liked best.
He also combined painting with digital imagery. “It took me, I would say, two months from start to finish,” Woods said.
Massive visibility via the Tropicana Field concourse, he said, will hopefully lead to further commissions from passers-by who notice and appreciate his style.
“It’s a big deal,” Woods stressed. “It’s one of the reasons we do art, to show people our work.”
Tricia Sham, who’s also based in Tampa, created a textured acrylic painting depicting Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura lifted into the air by another player after defeating the Boston Red Sox in game seven of the American League Championship Series in 2008.
It was one of the most joyous moments – thus far – in Rays history.
The artist struggled to find words to describe seeing her work mounted prominently on the concourse wall. “It’s surreal,” she finally said.
“I’m still in this tunnel vision state where it’s right in front of me, but I don’t feel like it’s happening. It’s my first public art.”
Also part of the “Rays Artist Series”
Brittany Freemon (Clearwater) – Jackie Robinson and the Rays
John T. Ritter (Tampa) – Evan Longoria and the Rays
Clifford McDonald (Sarasota) – Roberto Clemente and the Rays