One of the most observant reporters at work for us in this issue is a Chicagoan named Franklin McMahon, whose colorful recording of the two-week ocean race from San Diego to Acapulco, Mexico appears on pages 28-36. McMahon files his account of it with paintbrushes.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED holds that the artist-reporter can do as much as the word-man or the cameraman to capture the shine and movement of sport. He brings his private and opinionated eye to the event; when he does his job well he catches truth in a new way.
More than a score of such fine observers have reported for us in the past 12 months, using styles that range from turn-of-the-century gentleness and classicism to realism, to witty distortion, to smashing boldness. Sometimes the artist-reporter is given weeks to finish his work; other times he covers a Saturday-night event and makes a Sunday-editorial deadline.
Choosing and guiding SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S artists, as indeed he guides the look of the magazine itself each week, is Art Director Richard (Dick) Gangel, 45, a native New Yorker who set aside his own paintbrushes to pilot P-38s in North Africa and Italy in World War II and came to us after two years as an assistant art director of LIFE. Dick Gangel was asked not long ago what he seeks—and does not seek—in the art that fills our pages. He began, and crisply, with what will not do: "Anything deriving from that exhausted old tradition in which the artist, as a mere interpreter of somebody's script, painted gorgeous, dreamy works for ladies' love stories—each creampuff page setting art backward a baby step." And what does SPORTS ILLUSTRATED seek? Says Gangel: "Convictions, quality, principles, bold ideas, frankness, personal involvement; adult themes presented with daring; exploration of new directions."
We believe that the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reader appreciates this kind of art and this kind of art direction. One of the most distinguished award groups in U.S. art also appreciates it. New York's 63-year-old Society of Illustrators, after examining 900 paintings and drawings submitted in the category of editorial art (chiefly magazine), this week awarded two gold medals.
Both were for art from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 1963.
One medal went to Harvey Schmidt, whose work has appeared many times in this magazine, for a green and almost pastoral moment in which the crew of an eight-oared shell makes its way under arching trees toward the start of the Syracuse regatta (SI, June 10).
And one went to Satirist Saul Steinberg, making his first reportorial appearance in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (and for him a rather rare appearance in color) for his jockey and Thoroughbred confronting each other (SI, Nov. 11).
In an Award of Excellence, the Society of Illustrators also cited Artist Bob Peak for his vividly charging blockers in a pro football portfolio (SI, Sept. 9). New Yorkers and visitors are invited to see these and 300 other fine examples of illustrators at work, until March 6, at the Society's gallery, 128 East 63rd Street.