Artist Spends Years To
January 9, 2008
This is the first of a monthly series focusing on some
of the most significant and memorable artifacts in the
collection of theUSGAMuseum. These artifacts will be featured in the newArnoldPalmerCenter for Golf History, when the USGA Museum re-opens
to the public inJune.
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|A close-up shot from a piece of
the portrait, far right, was pulled from Arnold
Palmer's left eye, as demonstrated above.
(Portrait image courtesy of James David Chase)||A close-up view of Palmer's
eye shows some of the words the artist used in
constructing the portrait. (Portrait image courtesy
of James David Chase)|
By Rosemary Maravetz, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - Artist James David Chase has always been
deeply influenced by people achieving the impossible.
It is a subject and philosophy that he conveys to his
students through his work as a communications professor at
Pacific Union College in Angwin, Calif.
As a child, Chase was especially inspired by Arnold Palmer
to set goals for himself that seemed beyond his
reach. He was particularly captivated by the way
Palmer seemed to achieve the unattainable on the golf
course while keeping a spirit of kindness and generosity
with his fans.
In 1989, Chase was moved to create a portrait honoring
Palmer using only words carefully chosen from all that has
been said or written about the golf icon. This included
Palmer's own words. His intention was to execute the
portrait using hand-written text to create shading and form
the distinctive lines and features of Palmer's
"I wanted the content to become the form,"
said Chase. "[I wanted] to turn Arnie's story
lines into Arnie's facial lines."
Before he could begin his drawing, Chase took hundreds of
photographs of Palmer at various golf tournaments in order
to capture his facial features and expressions. He then
spent countless hours researching the words that would
become part of his composition. This was followed by
six months of simply plotting out where each line would be
positioned to create Palmer's face. Chase carefully
placed words. Words that Palmer heard were located near his
ear and words he spoke were situated near his mouth.
Palmer's signature at the bottom of the portrait is
comprised of the 'signature' golf courses he has
designed around the world.
When he finally began placing words on paper, he averaged
eight per hour. The size varied from 1/10th to 1/16th of an
inch. Chase spent the next 14 years devoted to creating a
painstakingly detailed portrait of his golf hero, using a
total of 22,719 words. Another unique element that
brought the drawing to life was an embossing process that
requires various layers of hand-sculpted paper to be added
to the composition.
Chase named the portrait "Gratitude" to symbolize
how grateful Palmer's fans are for his dedication to
golf, but also to capture Palmer's sentiment toward his
fiercely loyal fans.
The finished drawing is nothing short of astonishing.
After seeing the finished product in 2003, Palmer said,
"That is the most amazing thing that I have ever seen
in my entire life."
"Gratitude" will be one of more than 2,000
artifacts on display when the new Arnold Palmer Center for
Golf History opens to the public in June. The
portrait will be the focus of a new room dedicated to
Palmer, where his life and many accomplishments will be
celebrated. As part of an interactive display, the portrait
will be accompanied by taped audio from Chase and Palmer,
helping visitors get a firmer grasp of the quotes used to
Rosemary Maravetz is the Collections Manager for the
USGA Museum, responsible for the care and preservation of
thousands of artifacts in the Museum's collections. For
questions or comments, she can be reached at