The Wonderful Weird World of Harrison Woods

Every now and then, you discover a world that is completely new to you, a world that was never hidden, really, yet your eyes could not quite see it until everything suddenly came into focus, and forever after you wonder how you could have ever seen things differently. I share one such world with you today.

Earlier this week, I volunteered for WFMU's annual pledge drive marathon. If you've ever listened to WFMU, you might imagine their offices would have many interesting things hanging from its walls, and you'd be correct. However, what really caught my eye during my last visit was this small framed oddity that hangs just outside one of the studios. (Please forgive the flash glare.)

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No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a painting of three small children wearing full Mets uniforms staring into clouds over Shea Stadium, where a ghostly conclave of Mets players stare down at them a la Mufasa in The Lion King. Look, I don't like it any better than you do, but there it is and we're all going to have to deal with it, okay?

I find this scene very unsettling, watching these very young children--babies, really--lift their eyes to the heavens, where pro athletes bestow benediction on their futures like the pagan gods of old. Not to mention that these kids look disturbingly jacked for their age. Childhood obesity is a big problem in this country, but I still don't think little Timmy should be doing clap pushups at age 3. i can't imagine who this was meant to appeal to; maybe people who collect Precious Moments figurines and can bench press twice their own weight?

The tableau is made all the more strange because of the choice of players, which betrays the very specific time period in which this work must have been completed. The offseason preceding the 2002 season would have been the only time anyone would have dared place Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar alongside Mike Piazza--as Mets, anyway. Vaughn and Alomar both excelled elsewhere, but their respective times in Mets uniforms were undistinguished at best. Which means that this painting, in all likelihood, never hung on anyone's wall for too long.

I looked up Harrison Woods, the artist responsible for this. It turns out this motif--buff toddlers in full sports uniforms looking up at ethereal images of their heroes--is his bread and butter. At this site, you can sample Mr. Woods' work involving the stars of baseball, football, basketball, and NASCAR (hockey was left unscathed).

No Mets-related art is still available (perhaps he felt burned by Vaughn and Alomar), but you can purchase Woods' "Little Bronx Dynamos" featuring Shetland versions of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. You can also buy "Wiz Kid," in which a small child admires Michael Jordan as he appeared on the Wizards, a time we all remember fondly. If the NFL is more your speed, you can opt for "Little Rayzor," where a boy admires Ray Lewis, and I think we'd all agree that as role models goes, Ray Lewis is just top notch.

The art is all nearly identical, save this one piece entitled "Toddler on a Tear":

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Look out, Baby Vince Carter! There's a raptor with a basketball after you! Good thing you've been hitting the gym; you'll need those muscles to fight for your life!

I have opened your doors of perception into the wonderful world of Harrison Wood. Use this knowledge wisely, my friends.

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