The Martha's Vineyard Times
John Holladay's cartoons at Louisa Gould Gallery
John Holladay made his national mark with offbeat posters of America's best-loved sports stadia from Fenway Park to Notre Dame Stadium
that have tickled America's sports fanciers and have produced five
million poster sales since the 1980s. But the Island's got him now.
Photo courtesy of louisa gould gallery
An original poster, part of the John Holladay Sport Art display at Louisa Gould Gallery.
"I want to devote my time to painting Island landscapes," the 10-year
Island resident said this week as he prepared to exhibit the original
artwork of his poster collection for showing at the Louisa Gould Gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.
The show opened yesterday and continues through June 21. An artist's
reception will be held at the gallery tomorrow evening, Saturday, May
28, between 5 pm and 7 pm.
Mr. Holladay is whimsical, pleasant, a down-to-earth man, whose
personality is reflected in the watercolor and pen and ink drawings of
sports venues and their ever-present fans. Only a few sports artists
have captured America's fancy as Mr. Holladay has. LeRoy Nieman and
Sports Illustrated magazine's Robert Riger come to mind as artists whose
evocative sports illustrations made them sought-after artists.
"John Holladay is not only a prolific artist, he is a true talent.
John works in many mediums, oils, acrylic, pen and ink, cartoons and
watercolor, but he is most well-known for his watercolors," says gallery
owner Louisa Gould, who has represented his work for five years. "I am
very excited to show John Holladay Sport Art — this new body of work
which has never been shown here before," she says.
Ms. Gould continues, "Although these sports teams of the NCAA, NFL,
NBA were licensed and sold as posters in the 1980s, this is the first
time the originals are available for sale. They are not only important
as works of art, but historical importance, because John has included
many relevant details within each watercolor illustration. This Sport
Art show will appeal to sports fans, art followers, and those with a
sense of humor. As a gallery owner, it is exciting to show a new genre
of art by one of our Island artists."
Mr. Holladay talks about his decision to sell the original stadia
art: "The posters are all gone and I really thought about donating the
original art to a library back home in Davenport [Iowa] but I want them
to go into the hands of collectors, into the hands of people who love
sports and teams. There are not too many sports artists out there and
not too many galleries that display sport artists, so this is a good
opportunity [to present the genre]."
His back stories about his work also appeal to sports fans.
"I'm the only artist who has been allowed to work inside Notre Dame Stadium," he says. "It took two years to get permission. Fr. (Ted) Hesburgh, ND president at the time, was very protective and wanted to make sure it was done right."
And a concerned administration at the University of Indiana
prohibited any likenesses of fiery basketball coach Bobby Knight
throwing chairs, an antic that landed him in national hot water.
"But after we did the first one, Bobby asked me to include a chair somewhere in the background," Mr. Holladay recalls.
Now it's back to landscape painting, his first love back in Davenport
where he cut his teeth at the Quad Cities Times as an illustrator. "I
loved that job. You never knew, from day to day, what they'd ask for,"
Mr. Holladay had never been to Martha's Vineyard, and knew no one
when he arrived 10 years ago. "When I began talking in Iowa about doing
landscapes again, a friend told me to move to the East Coast. I had a
sister on the Cape, discovered the Vineyard, and here I am," he says.
"Friends also told me that I'd run out of scenes to paint after a few
years but I never will. The possibilities are endless on the Island."