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Artist's intricate football stadiums feature ducks as fans and players
Missoula artist Doug Baldwin has recently completed a terra cotta replica of Washington-Grizzly stadium, complete with 4,000 ducks that stand in for the real Griz fans.
Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

University of Montana alumnus Doug Baldwin has created out of clay more than 100 stadium replicas.

And ducks.

One of his most recent is a table-top-sized version of Washington-Grizzly Stadium, complete with both teams on the field, fans in the stands, sky boxes, goalposts and scoreboards.

The twist: All 4,000 or so fans, coaches, players and referees have duck heads.

The explanation: Thirty years ago, while working at a mold factory outside of Washington, D.C., Baldwin found a mold for a human-like figure with a duck head. He used the head as a symbol in piece after piece. Eventually, the ducks became the focal point of his artwork.

After a few years, he threw away the mold and made his own.

He has not made a piece without a duck in it. "I put ducks everywhere," he said. "I try to make 70 at a time so they don't dry out on me."

Baldwin spent hours and hours looking at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, checking out photos and drawings. "It really messed me up when they expanded the north end zone," he said. In the end, he fit 60 or so pieces together to complete the stadium.

A graduate of Missoula County High School, Baldwin earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Montana in 1961 and a master's in 1965. He studied under Missoula artists Rudy Autio and Jim Dew; they changed his life.

He went on to teach at the University of Wisconsin for three years before moving to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where he taught ceramics for 33 years. In March, UM's art school will sponsor a retrospective look at Baldwin's work.

His work also has been shown in Japan, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and around the United States. UM honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994.

One of the pieces on display in Baldwin's Missoula apartment shows Grizzly players crowded into the back of a truck. "Get that offense moving" is tacked nearby.

"It's one of about 50 variations," Baldwin, a Griz football fan, said.

Another exhibit focuses on referees. One, a side judge, offers a look at the side of an official. Another, the back judge, is a view of the back of an official. A third, a field judge, is a judge checking out the field.

"I always try to have a little fun in my work," Baldwin confessed.

He moved back to Missoula in 2003 after retiring. He does his work in his apartment and dreams of a home with a special area for his craft.

"I'd like to sell it," he said of his artwork. All but the stadiums.

"I didn't make them to sell, but for the fun of it," Baldwin said.

He's happy to be back in Missoula - that he knows for certain. "I really do feel at home," he said. "This (UM) gave me life."

Reporter Donna Syvertson can be reached at 523-5361 or at dsyvertson@missoulian.com

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