2001: A Year of Heroes

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2001: A Year of Heroes

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2001: A Year of Heroes 
Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Mark McGuire

In Year of Heroes - 2001, Rick Rush, America's sports artist, has utilized his considerable talent in merging realism with abstraction to display images of strength, not only on the playing field but also in the fabric of the American people. The power of sport and the strength of the nation are depicted in a manner that may be Rush's most important work to date. Rush captures this strength through his use of color, sense of motion and powerful images compelling the viewer to witness the joys and tragedies of the year of 2001. Looking closely at the painting one will see the expressions of the people in the crowd changing from somber to joyous as they realize that America is strong and can withstand attacks on our way of life. Never before have we in America been so tested as in the year of 2001, and Rush counterpointed it with the simple joy of the American pastime.

The stars on the baseball field are shown reflecting their extraordinary accomplishments: Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, with over 3,000 hits; Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles, with record setting fielding skills and longevity; and Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals, a powerful homerun king. As these baseball heroes retired in late 2001, the everyday American heroes emerged amid the chaos. In this painting the heroes of American life and the heroes of the baseball field represent real-life Americans - the soldier is a relative, and the fireman and policeman are friends of the artist who live their important roles daily.

Rush combines the symbols of individual strength (the sports stars and heroes) and collective patriotism (the images of the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon flag) to create a tapestry of unyielding power, untarnished pride and revitalized patriotism. The American way of life - often imitated, often criticized, many times challenged, but always rising from the ashes and reborn in the "Year of Heroes: 2001."