Municipal de Ftbol: a Reading & Conversation About Art, Design, and Sport

Pick up soccer in L.A. is a collision of glass and grass in this shot of Lafayette Park by photographer Michael Wells
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Soccer fans who see the sport as art and appreciate its cultural context will find this multi-media contribution to the game in Southern California by photographer Michael Wells, UC Riverside Associate Professor of English and blogger Jennifer Doyle and graphic designer Jonathan Maghen an intriguing effort.

Here’s the (edited) official blurb on Municipal de Ftbol:

A slide show, reading and panel discussion … celebrates what is arguably Los Angeles’s largest subculture, the world of those playing in the myriad of soccer leagues across the city, far below the radar of sports media. A project initiated by graphic designer Jonathan Maghen, Municipal de Ftbol was inspired by the pick-up and amateur soccer games played in the densest parts of east and south Los Angeles. Centered on Michael Wells’ photographs of weekend and night games played on dusty fields and in urban parks across the city, Municipal de Ftbol explores the possibilities of “Ftbol Angelino” as a site for art-making. Maghen, Wells, and writer Jennifer Doyle will present their contributions to the project, and talk about their collaboration as graphic designer, photographer and critic and this inspired marriage of art and sport.

The result is a boxed edition of essays and photographs that are a “Whitmanian ode to ftbol culture in LA,” Doyle said.

Full disclosure: Doyle and Maghen are “friends” of mine on Facebook (which is an apt way to learn about a grass-roots art event like this somehow). I asked Maghen how the project came about:

Towards the end of 2007 adidas asked me to pitch a project for either Euro 2008 or the Olympics. Being a huge football fan and active player, I chose Euro 2008. In our first meeting I talked to them about the idea of Mexican, Mexican-American and Central American teams in Los Angeles wearing European National Team kits, and how it is pretty common here, and making a series of eight posters that would be posted in Los Angeles and New York during the tournament. They really loved the idea and asked for a budget. While preparing I thought it would be far more interesting to make a book/edition on soccer in Los Angeles and included that option in the budget. They preferred that idea, we had one more meeting to discuss some details and after that they didn’t interfere at all, really great to work with.

Doyle added this perspective:

This project grew out of midnight pick up games in Lafayette Park – Jonathan and I met playing pick up and then played together in a 7 aside league there (they let our team field a couple women who’d been part of the pick up scene).

He’s a graphic designer, and pitched an art/design/writing project to Adidas – they went for it and underwrote the whole enterprise.

We are all really passionate about the pick up and amateur scenes across this part of LA (east, central, south central), and feel there is a lot more one can do with this topic.

He and I are now actually officers in a new men’s league (Union Football League) in the Pico/Union area.

The first game is Sunday, incidentally.

The 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. event Saturday is free and open to the public. It’s at the Ruskin Theater, 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica (across the street from the Barker Hangar).

It’s part of a larger event called Art LA, BTW.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Art R.

    Hi Nick,
    Curious, I play pickup at Crossroads in Santa Monica on Sundays with a group of guys that have been doing it for years, very interesting mix, many of European background (French, German, Arabic, Israeli etc). There was a guy there last Sunday filming, nobody knew him. Somebody asked him about it and I only caught a little of what he said but I believe that it was just his interest to film soccer in the local areas and that he hoped we didn’t mind. I wonder if it was related to your article?

    Nick replies: I don’t think so. The piece I wrote about originally debuted around Euro 2008.

  • http://www.fromaleftwing.blogspot.com Jennifer Doyle

    Thanks for telling your readers about our event! The more ftbol fans & players in the room, the better!