From Arthur Ashe to the Williams sisters, public courts have nurtured and built US Open champions. The USTA, in partnership with Chase and our National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network, will build upon its shared mission to strengthen communities through tennis and art by restoring five public-court facilities in five markets.
Artist Charlie Edmiston will be transforming the public courts of the Pete Brown Junior Tennis Program, a USTA NJTL, into an immersive art experience. USOpen.org caught up with Edmiston to discuss his art, his inspiration and how tennis will influence his creation.
USOpen.org: What made you want to get involved in this project?
Charlie Edmiston: My sister runs a nonprofit for children of foster care, so I’ve seen first-hand how important these programs are for underprivileged youth, and after learning about the NJTL and what a great program it is, it just seems like a wonderful opportunity. I think having public courts for a community is essential, and being able to create a public piece of art while simultaneously revamp a public park is amazing.
USOpen.org: What inspired you when you were planning your piece?
Charlie Edmiston: The kids are the main inspiration. The thought of kids playing on the court that’s art and them getting excited to go out and play sports makes me happy.
USOpen.org: What are you hoping to convey with your artwork?
Charlie Edmiston: I think the overall feeling is happiness and positivity. I’m an abstract artist – I have to use shapes and colors, the visual language, to tell a story. I often hide words or secret messages in my work. I think this project is a cool opportunity to hide some sort of inspiring or positive message within the artwork on the court.
USOpen.org: Are there any specific feelings you hope to evoke from people when they see your work?
Charlie Edmiston: The feeling is positivity. Through the usage of colors, I want people to instantly crack a smile or just get happy or feel positive.
USOpen.org: Are you a tennis player yourself?
Charlie Edmiston: I’m the youngest of seven, and all of my older siblings played tennis, so I’ve definitely played with them many times. I grew up skateboarding.
USOpen.org: Have there been any surprises or challenges so far in this project?
Charlie Edmiston: There are eight courts total at the NTJL, but I’m not painting all of them but had to consider all eight and that the design was consistent across all courts. I have to make sure, from an aerial view, that all the courts look cohesive. So, really, I guess the challenge up to this point has been to figure out the design and carry it out over all the courts.
I think the colors, as well, being so limited with the palette. I’m very used to using bright colors, and it’s one of the colors you absolutely cannot use, so the palette has definitely been a challenge. But we can use white to mix the paint to create lighter shades. Overall, I’m really excited because it’s a totally different palette than I’m used to.
USOpen.org: Have you done any projects similar to this one?
Charlie Edmiston: I haven’t painted any sort of sport courts or anything like that. In art school, we had an art project that partnered us up with a local elementary school. With the help of the kids, we did two small murals on campus, and it was really awesome.
Last year, a friend of mine put together a mural festival at the RFK schools in LA. Twenty-five other artists and I painted huge murals all over the campus. I got the kids involved, and they were helping me paint. So that was the most similar.
As far as painting on the ground, I haven’t done that, or haven’t painted a court before.
Follow artist Charlie Edmiston on Instagram: @charlieedmiston.
Join the conversation using hashtag #USOpenArtCourtsxChase.
Join the 50th anniversary Art Courts celebration in Los Angeles, and tune in to US Open Facebook Live, Periscope and YouTube at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) for the live painting show, hosted by WTA tennis star Coco Vandeweghe.