ARCADIA — The Baseball Reliquary presents a new exhibition, “Purpose Pitch: Ben Sakoguchi and the Baseball Reliquary,” through April 29 at the Arcadia Public Library, 20 W. Duarte Road in Arcadia.
The exhibition focuses on the fruitful relationship that has developed over the years between the Baseball Reliquary, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the prism of baseball history, and Pasadena-based artist Ben Sakoguchi.
The exhibition features 54 paintings and prints from the artist’s epic “Orange Crate Label Series: The Unauthorized History of Baseball,” whose small canvases pay homage to the storied orange crate art that was once ubiquitous in Southern California, while at the same time turning these fanciful labels inside out, using them as a vehicle for his often provocative perspectives on the game’s most enduring moments and personalities. Sakoguchi infuses his paintings with irony, humor, and a sense of the absurd, often incorporating jarring cultural juxtapositions.
His “Orange Crate Label Series” now comprises over 200 paintings, and in its comprehensive view of how baseball has reflected American culture in terms of race, gender, politics, economics, and social and cultural issues, Sakoguchi’s series ranks among the greatest artistic achievements in the history of the national pastime, the Baseball Reliquary said.
In his article on the paintings for Sports Illustrated, David Davis noted, “Always evident in his art is what Sakoguchi calls his ‘feeling of otherness,’ which came from his experiences growing up in one of the few Asian American families in San Bernardino … With his parents and three siblings, three-year-old Ben was interned in Poston, Arizona, for the remainder of the war. His outsider’s perspective gives his work a political bent.”
Library hours for “Purpose Pitch: Ben Sakoguchi and the Baseball Reliquary” are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sunday.