Jack Balas, 2009-2010; HAIL MARY PASS; oil and enamel on canvas, 52" x 84" (with landscape and Greek-vase vignettes by Wes Hempel)


The scrum is out there mid-field, but my goal was a Good-Friday painting, this player along the sidelines in some spontaneous crucifixion pose, his buddies maybe noticing him, maybe not. It did not even turn into an ex-voto, the kind where something has happened and the protagonist prays to the Virgin or a saint to help remedy the situation. As it was, the day was too perfect to pray, an 80-degree April Saturday, the afternoon light raking across the spring mesquites and cottonwoods and girlfriends on the bleachers with cellphones and the freight rumbling through behind the chainlink fence as these guys in impeccable bravado slap each other playfully even as the score heads south. No one was so inclined because we all sensed that the prayer had already been answered by this day, this incredibly perfect day, in and of itself -- as if we'd turned around and there it was coming at us over our shoulder like a Hail Mary Pass, this gift that drops into our arms and we run with it. Our job is to run with it, the goal not to score but simply to run with it. And we do. Boy, do we run.

Past their targets, to a wry truth.