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Xs and Os

Artist Ball shows school spirit
with drawings of local athletes

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(April 2006) – Two years ago, Jerry Ball wanted to do something special for high school athletes. Ball wanted the community to recognize each player’s attributes, not just notice the star of the game.

Jerry Ball Artwork

Photo by Don Ward

Jerry Ball’s drawings of South Oldham
County High School athlete Katie
Arsenault hangs at Beef O’Brady’s.

While pictures of outstanding players are often displayed in local papers, “Other players are forgotten about,” said Ball. He decided to create pencil drawings of each member of the different sports teams at Oldham County High School.
After contacting the high school athletic director and meeting with coaches, he earned their approval to arrange a meeting with the parents of the players. The individual portraits are matted and framed and measure 20x26 inches. Portraits by themselves cost $65, while a matted and framed portrait runs $185.
Ball said his work is something he is “very proud of.” His work often hangs on the walls of McDonald’s, Beef O’Bradys, Hometown Pizza, all in La Grange, and at the Oldham County High School.
A small biography accompanies the portraits, and Ball described them as a “morality booster,” for the students. “It gives the students their five minutes of fame,” he said.
This artistic concept began as a hobby for Ball, 49. He took four years of art in high school and had planned to take classes in college but never pursued it. By 1998, he picked it up again and expanded his talent.
The purpose of these student portraits is to “focus on the high school students who have dedicated their life to sports,” said Ball. He feels they have accomplished something worthwhile in their lives and deserve recognition.
In high school, Ball was interested in sports, competing in track and wrestling. He now combines his love of sports with art.
As a precursor to his current artwork, Ball had made pencil drawings for the fire department and police department in Oldham County. Ball moved to the county six years ago due to a family members’ illness. He is originally from Dayton, Ohio.
Having been involved in the construction business for a long time, Ball is now semi-retired. He is self-employed as a freelance photographer and produces self-designed graphics.
Ball has exhibited his artwork at the Oldham County Arts Center and participated occasionally in art shows. His wife, Joyce, who paints in oils and acrylics, usually accompanies him.
The couple would like to someday open an art gallery on Washington Street in La Grange. Joyce said the two front rooms of their home would be perfect to display the couple’s artwork. They plan to only display their own artwork to keep things simple.
Whenever Joyce has a few extra hours, she paints. “I’ve always enjoyed art,” she said. She has drawn since childhood, never taking classes but calling her ability “God gifted.”
She has dabbled in a variety of mediums and hopes to tackle watercolor in the future. Joyce has a wide range of subject matter that includes still lifes, ballet dancers, snow scenes, animals and “a little bit of everything.”
Of her husband’s artwork she said, “Young people need credit. The portraits are an uplifting thing for them.”
Sharon Schulz, whose daughter, Meredith, was a senior at Oldham County High School last year, was impressed with Ball’s work from the moment she saw it. She said the technique used was “different than just a regular portrait.” This added to the overall appeal of the drawing.
She thinks it is a great idea to display the portraits throughout the community. She bought a framed and matted portrait as a keepsake of her daughter’s cheerleading days.
Rich Graviss, Athletic Director for Oldham County High School, recognized Ball’s passion for art after Ball approached him with the idea. He said both parents and the community think the portraits are fantastic.
“Having them on display in prominent locations, so that others can see them,” is really a plus, said Graviss. The portraits are on display at the high school temporarily. He said the dance coach at the high school was so taken with Ball’s work that she had portraits drawn of all her seniors to give as presentations for a Seniors Awards Night.
Ball gives a portion of the portrait fee back to the team he has drawn. “It is amazing how realistic they look,” said Graviss. “It is a tribute to his artistic ability.”

• For more information, contact Jerry Ball at (502) 222-3485.

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