The Abs destroyed the Concs 12-11 yesterday in the first -- and only -- game of the 1981 Washington Artworld Series. The poor Concs rallied in the eighth and hit a bunch of homers. But they never had a chance.
All the Abs are abstract artists. The Concs, the D.C. Concretes, also known to softball fans as the Realies or the Reps, could not overcome their esthetic disadvantage. The ball game from the start -- what with its dogs and its umbrellas, its old grudges and new gossip -- was insurmountably abstract.
Still, it's not easy playing heads-up ball when you can't decide on which team you belong.
Ex-artist Joy Silverman used to throw clay pots. Are pots abstract or not? Rockne (Rocky) Krebs, also known as "Laser Man," a nickname that refers not to line drives but to light works, once showed prism horses, and, with that as an excuse, made the fatal error of throwing in his lot with the losing side. Marilyn Mahoney, who draws abstract forms in real space, could also have gone either way, but stuck with the abstractionists. Her pitching won the game.
The Clark brothers, Mark and Michael, both of whom are painters, both of whom are realists, were, as were their teammates, rattled from the start. "Hey, you only got two girls," Michael whined at his opponents. "How come we got five?"
Though baseball is, in theory, a precisionist endeavor, a game as taughtly elegant as a proof in mathematics, the look of last night's contest was more yeucchy than Euclidean. Traditionalists, expecting each team to deploy a trim triad of outfielders, noted with dismay that both the winners and the losers chose to field six or eight. Christopher Walt Stickney, though appropriately equipped with groovy flip-down shades and a huge leather mitt, ruined that ensemble by trotting to right field with a black umbrella in his throwing hand. And then there were the dogs.
Tex, the black-and-white one, kept streaking through the infield, past the pitcher and the shortstop and on into left field in search of his master, Charlie (Slick) Sleichter, who, though a failure at the plate, made the best catch of the game: a dangerous, one-handed stab that cost the diving outfielder a considerable portion of the skin on his left thigh.
Charlie -- not Charlie Sleichter, the outfielder, but Charlie Warwick, the 4-month-old Norwich terrier whose mistress is the chief information officer at the National Gallery of Art, also chose to trot about on the field. Though many of the players, particularly the female ones, found little Charlie cute, Mark Clark was not amused. "Damn Medfly," he was heard to grumble, perhaps because his team had blown its early lead and was already far behind.
The gossip was admirable. There was, for instance, much whispering in the dugouts about Walter Hopps, the famous underground curator who had directed the Corcoran and the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, who is soon going to Houston to direct a new museum containing the collection of John and Dominique de Menil.
The uniforms were odd. Jane Allen, who, with her husband Derek Guthrie, publishes the New Art Examiner, wore a hat that bore the name of the French feminist Simone de Beauvoir. Guthrie, though an Englishman, played very well indeed. His base-running was accurately described by his teammates as "expressive," and his hat said "Machiavelli." Joy Silverman's brown T-shirt asked the poignant question, "Who is Elmo Dell?"
Elmo Dell is Al Nodal, director of the Washington Project for the Arts. He umpired behind the plate, wielding a large cigar and wearing (for protection?) a thin brown leather necktie. Nodal was almost lynched when he made the grievous error of yelling "Out!" when "Big Al" Carter -- who was safe by a mile -- thundered across the plate. Umps don't change their rulings, but in this case Nodal did. "God, I hate this job," he said.
Though admirable home runs were hit by Chris Gardner, Mike McCall, Paul Fullerton, and Krebs the Laser Man, the most impressive clout of all was smashed by "Big Al" Carter, who is really big. "Look what he hit it with," observed Rick Michael. Carter's bat was signed "Big Daddy."
Sam Gilliam hit a triple, but later pushed his luck and, trying to stretch a double, ran into the wall of pain and was thrown out at third.
The 1981 Washington Artworld Series, played on the dusty diamond at 26th and P streets NW, was the second such encounter organized by Leslie Kuter and Bob Arnebeck, both of whom are self-described "guerrilla artist" gadflies. Last year they arranged a game between the city's artists and its dealers, a game the dealers won. Kuter and Arnebeck are also known for the "Laundry Shows" they organized on Columbia Road NW, for their hatred of loud noises, and for their disapproval of the curatorial polices followed by the Corcoran and the WPA.
Corcoran officials have been seen to scowl at the mention of their names. So has Nodal who, though he has shown Kuter's art, has been picketed by her, too. "Well, we really made them furious. We made their blood boil," said Leslie Kuter, smiling. The Artworld Series, she explained, "is a more lighthearted effort."
Standing in the dust, watching Nodal calling balls and strikes, she said that she forgives him.
Does Nodal forgive Kuter? "Hell, no," said Nodal.