Waco artist commemorates Baylor stadium construction

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Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014 12:01 am | Updated: 12:28 pm, Mon Jun 2, 2014.

When artists Joe Magnano and Alicia Hart were looking for inspiration for a Baylor-themed painting, they started with the obvious.

They walked around campus, considering some iconic statues or well-designed buildings, but nothing they found struck them as particularly inspirational.

Then, when driving down Interstate 35, Magnano saw the skeleton of McLane Stadium, currently under construction, and knew he’d found his subject.

“I like the feeling of a work in progress,” Magnano said. “No one will see it at that stage ever again.”

Not many people would find beauty in a construction site, but Magnano sees the scene as more than just metal, dirt and heavy machinery.

“It’s not about Baylor per se,” Magnano said. “It’s about human accomplishment.”

Hart comes up with a product to commemorate each year for her store, Harts N Crafts, at 1125 S. Eighth St.

Magnano came to help her with the store in August after studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, and she thought using his painting abilities would be perfect for the year’s merchandise.

When he came to her with the stadium idea, she was immediately on board.

“It’s a special time in Baylor’s history,” said Hart, a Baylor alumna. “Everyone is so excited about the final result.”

Magnano said he spent about 50 hours during three days creating the piece using acrylic paints on canvas.

When finished, he and Hart had it printed as an 18-by-24-inch poster, which they now sell at Harts N Crafts for $20. Each print is numbered and signed by Magnano.

The pair have sold about 200 so far.

The stadium piece is not the first Baylor-themed painting Magnano created. The Baylor Sailor Bear is a frequent subject that he paints on Harts N Crafts merchandise.

But Magnano’s sources of inspiration are eclectic. His paintings hanging in Harts N Crafts include a portrait of a squirrel and a collage of carrots.

Currently, he is working on a large piece featuring cactus and two cows, a scene from the West Texas mountain desert near Marfa.

Hart said having Magnano painting pieces in a back-room of the shop has helped her think differently about her business.

He helps her create products for the store, and convinced her to set aside a small corner of the shop to sell art supplies.

“He has an eye to reorient things,” Hart said. “I’m so connected to the store that I only see it in a certain way.”

In the future, Magnano said, he hopes to get representation and show his pieces in prominent galleries.

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