I was tickled the other day to see a digital image (shown here) of a poster featuring the 1984 Detroit Tigers and used as a promotional giveaway for a two-part reunion show produced by Mark Dehem, owner of The Athlete Connection in suburban Detroit.
The original artwork for the poster was created by one of my favorite artists, Paul Madden, of www.Maddenart.com. The artwork measures 24-by-36 inches, featuring 35 players, five coaches and manager Sparky Anderson. A very egalitarian total, apropos of perhaps the greatest post free agency blue-collar team, and an undertaking just as perfectly suited to Madden’s unique talents.
While his incredible sports art is best known by our readership, Madden’s reach extends way beyond the various sports arenas. He has created pieces for Disney, other major film studios and any number of television series, usually crafting these intricate but exquisitely designed and constructed masterpieces that often portray literally dozens and dozens of individuals.
Madden has done poster commissions like this one for years, and boasts a client list that includes dozens of major banks and corporations. This time, to honor the great 1984 Tigers squad, Legendary Auctions sponsored the printing of the posters, which was held to an edition of – you guessed it – 1,984 pieces.
The first half batch of posters were given away to the first 992 paid attendees at the July Midwest Sports Collectors Show; the posters will be similarly distributed at Denhem’s Nov. 27-29 Thanksgiving Weekend show (www.Midwestsportscollectors.com) at The Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Mich., also in suburban Detroit.
Madden’s artwork is so meticulously created it leaves onlookers breathless; he works in a combination of colored pencil and markers, producing visuals at once stunningly realistic and just as compelling with faultless use of vivid colors.
Veteran dealers and show goers no doubt have seen Madden over the years at shows in the Midwest and even on both coasts, most notably perhaps at the annual Sun-Times shows and the no defunct SportsFest shows that Krause Publications promoted for nearly a decade.
And unlike the stereotype of the artist as hapless businessman, he can be pretty crafty in that regard as well. Several years ago at Sun-Times, he was set up a good seven or eight rows away from our Sports Collectors Digest booth, and facing away from us.
Undaunted, he took his massive Henry Aaron original artwork and displayed it at the back of his booth, pointed directly at me. I stared at it for the better part of three days – and even visited it up close several times when he wasn’t looking – and by Sunday afternoon pulled the trigger.