Sure, I love his social practice projects and social media works, but I’m also a huge fan of Lee Walton’s drawings… and I want him to work on and with our scorecards! Walton uses the games themselves—MLB, NBA, and NFL games—to generate drawings, working from rules of his own devising, real time transcription alorithms. Very much Sol Lewitt plus William Anastasi plus Jorinde Voigt, Walton’s drawings have the strange charm of fan lit, artifacts powered and sustained by love. But they’re also hermetic, addressed as they are to the fan boys and girls whose appreciation is oblique, far gone.
Which doesn’t mean that these drawings can’t be cracked. William C. Agee, in his essay “Lee Walton: Drawing and Baseball” tallies up elements of Walton’s code:
In the baseball drawings, Walton orders the space of the sheet according to the shape of the diamond and field, their graceful symmetries in place, the players in their positions. The size and orientation can sometimes remind us of bubblegum baseball cards, familiar to every kid caught up in a youthful passion for the game. Within this space, simultaneously the space of the drawing and of the field, Walton responds to the unfolding game, following the system outlined by his keys. A sheet can be an inning, or it can represent a player; curved lines can stand for base hits; a fly ball out is a straight line, then bent on an angle; a double is a wide stripe running top to bottom; a home run is a thick line across the top of the space; areas of wash usually represent a strikeout, either swinging or looking, a telling difference for the ballplayer and fan alike.
That there can be telling differences: that’s the point. The drawings are less transparent records of games played than complex ciphers that testify to the sustained attention required to make them and read them, to make them tell. Walton simply follows the game and follows the rules, becoming a machine, a medium through which the game leaves marks, but unlike a box score or narrative report, his drawings obliterate the orderly times and spaces of their transcription. And we see in the drawings the agency of the game as it drives the hand. These drawings, cool and crisp as they are—the palette and the line are calm, neither op-art buzz saws nor push-pull abstraction nor “frenetic”—attune us to the hard work of being a fan, the labor.