A Beaverton artist's work is inspired by his son's lifelong love of baseball.

BLAIR STENVICK - Michael Kelly, right, and his son Zane look at Michael's series of baseball figures, current on display at Art on Broadway in Beaverton.If it wasn't for his son Zane, Michael Kelly probably never would have started drawing baseball players.

Kelly, the "best in show" winner at last year's Beaverton Arts Mix, currently has four baseball figure drawings on display at Art on Broadway in Beaverton, where he is a featured artist. Kelly first took an interest in the sport because of his son's talent.

"Zane started playing baseball at age 5, and he was incredible when he was 5," Kelly said. "So that's where my interest began in baseball, going to his games, following him along. By the time he got to high school, he was pretty much a baseball star."

Zane played for Sunset High School in the late 1990s. He received a book of baseball art based on Ken Burns' "Baseball" television series when he was starting to plan for college, and knew he wanted his father to create something for him.

"That's what I wanted as a graduation present, was some art I could put in my apartment when I moved out," he said. "Baseball is a game of angles and measurements, and artists are always looking for shapes. Baseball's got — the ball's round, and it's got the diamond — so the energy and the shapes, it all fits with art."COURTESY MICHAEL KELLY - 'Release" by Michael Kelly

"One day he was out in my studio and he said, 'Dad, can you do some baseball drawings?' And I said, 'I don't know, I suppose,'" his father added. "So I started off doing a couple, and a couple turned into a hundred."

For Michael, drawing baseball figures gave him a chance to work with shapes, angles and movement, all elements that he likes to explore in all his work.

"I'm all about action and energy in all of my work, and baseball displays that," he said. "The more you look, the more you see the action… when a runner takes off from first to second when (the batter) swings the bat, and the way he runs, the more you see that's where the action is."

His son agrees.

"A lot of the pictures he's drawn of baseball players, they're mostly in motion," he said. "Everything is happening… it fits with his style."

Michael Kelly has been passionate about art since college — he said he fell asleep during every class except art, which prompted him to switch his major from business to fine art.

Zane feels that same passion for baseball. But after high school, it became clear that he wouldn't play professionally.

"As you get older the pool of talent gets much larger and you become more average," he said. "I had to figure out what I was going to do when I couldn't play as well as some other people could play."

In college, Zane saw some fellow baseball players get injured, and it inspired him to become a trainer. He's now the director of performance at Athletes in Motion, a training center in Beaverton that primarily works with baseball players, ranging in age from "little league to the big leagues."

"More and more kids are getting hurt," Sane said. "Training them and helping them stay healthy is a big part of our business."

Michael sees his path and his son's path as similar, as they both managed to make careers out of their passions.

"You have to have a passion for something to succeed," he said. "Zane had a passion for baseball, and that's why he got as good as he got."

And while some might see a disconnect between sports and art, Zane pointed out that some of the world's best athletes have had an artistic side.

"Babe Ruth was in Vaudeville, and acted in movies," he said. "Athletes have a lot of time when they're not training, so they either watch TV or go out and do stuff, whether it's photography or painting or drawing. I know a lot of athletes who are artistic."

Michael Kelly's baseball figures will be on display at Art on Broadway through the end of August.

Blair Stenvick
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