Art and baseball may not seem like a match made in heaven, but they will join forces this summer at the St. Paul Saints ballpark. The Saints will be honoring their recently deceased artist and muse Andy Nelson by forging a partnership with the Minnesota art community. Saints vice president Annie Huidekoper said that the Saints will be showcasing different Minnesota artists throughout the summer.
Huidekoper said Nelson came over to the stadium in the winter of 1993 and offered to do artwork for the team. “That was the start of a 16-year friendship,” Huidekoper said. “Andy turned the stadium into place of color and joy and vitality. He really helped set the tone for the team.”
Nelson designed half a dozen murals around the stadium, and painted the concession stands with different themes. He also created artwork for the Saints’ publicity and programs.
“He was a very thoughtful, sweet man,” said Huidekoper. “He had some of the best ideas as far as promotions, a great idea generator. Just a very kindhearted, lovely person.”
On the Saints website, team president Mike Veeck calls Andy Nelson “our muse.” As a remembrance for the artist that was so much a part of the team, the Saints are highlighting art throughout the coming season.
Before each game, a Minnesota artist will be introduced to the crowd and show off their work of art to everyone in attendance, according to a press release. The artist’s name, background and previous work will be displayed on the video board as they are introduced.
“Andy’s Artists Corner,” a new area in the ball park, will be located on the third base side of the concourse. The corner will feature a sponsor’s logo and MNArtist.org’s logo, and will display background information on that night’s featured artist, as well as information about how to volunteer or donate to the art community. According to a Saints press release, the artist’s work will be available for purchase after the game.
On the final game of the year, Fan Appreciation Night, representatives from the Saints and MNArtist.org, and the sponsor of Andy’s Artists Corner will be on hand for a special ceremony, in which a donation will be made to a yet-to-be-designated Twin Cities art program.
Huidekoper said she hopes people will come for the baseball, the art, and the community. “We’re a baseball team,” she said, “but we’re also a community gathering place.”
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.