The paintings in the windows of other art galleries crowded along New York City's 57th Street are unmistakably by Picasso and Miró and Monet. Those in the Spectrum Fine Art Gallery at 30 W. 57th are unmistakably of Willie Wood and Christy Mathewson and Jack Dempsey. The Spectrum is devoted to spectator sports, and Bill Goff, its 31-year-old director, has covered its walls with paintings and drawings of athletes and the games they play.
Like many of us. Goff is a latent middleweight champion, a closet World Series hero. In the gallery he keeps a high school yearbook, Cheltenham, Pa., 1964. The pages flip automatically to the place he wants.
"That's me," says Goff. pointing to a face in the third row of a photograph of the football team. His finger moves to the first row. "And that's Reggie Jackson. The number was 44 even then."
Opening the Spectrum was a labor of love for a frustrated jock whose family is in the art business (his mother owns a gallery on Long Island). Now when he is at work, Buck Buchanan watches menacingly from the sidelines while across the room Primo Camera gropes for support with flapping arms as he goes down.
The art changes with the seasons. Goff opened the gallery last summer with a show featuring baseball. Then came one on football (curiously, five of the artists whose works were shown were women); hockey and basketball share space in the spring exhibition. Many of the artists—such as Thomas Hart Benton, Raoul Dufy, Guy Pene du Bois and Rockwell Kent—are familiar to museum goers, but Goff gets a special satisfaction from uncovering less recognized artists who have done work with a sports theme.
For example, he discovered a series of lithographs of classic fights propped up in cracked frames in a newsstand. They turned out to have been done by a Navy admiral named George Webster Golinkin.
Goff is also arranging an exhibition called "Athlete as Artist" for present and former athletes who have tried their hands at painting and sculpture. Many have a gentle touch with a brush. Several, including former Denver Bronco Offensive Guard Ernie Barnes and Dartmouth All-America lacrosse player Joe Wilder, have already had works in the Spectrum.
The result is a gallery with something for almost everyone, the sports fan who knows nothing about art, the art connoisseur who knows nothing about sports.