How a Montreal artist's love of baseball helped her win an international competition
MONTREAL -- Josee Tellier reaches into the back of a display case, feeling around to find her prized possession. She pulls out a small vial, no bigger than a pill container, with sandy brown dirt inside.
“This is a little secret, I’m not supposed to have this,” she says with a sly smile, holding what to the untrained eye just looks like a bit of earth aloft. “I smuggled it from the field of dreams in Iowa, it’s a little bit of dirt from the diamond.”
Josee Tellier shows off a vial of dirt taken from the 'field of dreams,' the iconic baseball diamond from the film of the same name. (Photo: Kelly Greig/CTV News)
Tellier’s apartment, in an unassuming NDG building, could pass for an all-Expos Cooperstown. Her entranceway is draped with silky blue 1980s Expos windbreakers and beat up ball caps. Her dining room shelves are packed with signed baseballs and souvenirs. Walk through to the living room, and there’s a Gary Carter couch cushion sitting above the glass coffee table that doubles as a display case for bats and an original seat cushion from Jarry Park.
It’s not Tellier’s love of the game that’s drawing attention though, it’s her artistic talent.
The 45-year-old illustrator recently won an international competition for the Josh Gibson Foundation, recreating the Negro League star’s baseball card in her own style.
Gibson was known as one of the best power hitters of his era and in 1972 he was the second ever Negro League player to be elected to Hall of Fame. Many called him the Black Babe Ruth, others say Ruth was the White Josh Gibson.
The competition is part of a campaign to have Major League Baseball’s MVP award renamed for Gibson.
“We are in a campaign to rename the MVP award in Major League Baseball for Josh Gibson “ said his great-grandson Sean Gibson. “Josee’s art helped push that campaign.”
Tellier left her full-time job in June to focus solely on her art. She creates mostly portraits and re-designed baseball cards of famous players. Along her shelves some of the Expos greats peek out. Outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and pitcher Bill Lee’s smiling faces hang near her computer- where she creates her work.
She acknowledges being a full-time artists is a risk, but as baseball orders from around the world pour in she joked, “I’ve got enough work with 2023.”
From her NDG apartment, she’s creating images that are drawing attention worldwide.
Josee Tellier shows off just a few pieces of her Montreal Expos memorabilia collection. (Photo: Kelly Greig/CTV News)