Weekend arts and culture: A sports art competition

A new exhibit has opened in Florida featuring the finalists of the National Art Museum of Sport’s 3rd annual Commitment to Excellence in Art and Sport.

Last night a reception was held in Bradenton to kick off the exhibit, which continues at the ArtCenter Manatee’s Kellogg Center until Sept. 21.

competition_opening_FinalThe exhibit, co-sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club, features the work of 30 sports artists vying for three prizes totalling $2,500 each.

The winners will be awarded in three categories: Painting/2D, Sculpture/3D and Photography. The Best in Show award is named after Germain G. Glidden, the NAMOS founder.

This is the first physical exhibit involving NAMOS since it was forced to leave its longtime quarters at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis last spring. The university built a new student residence hall on the site of a hotel and conference center that also housed the museum. The Indianapolis Business Journal reported at the time that the museum may have been looking to leave Indianapolis, but there have been no updates on the situation.

The NAMOS website includes links with summaries to some past exhibits, including one featuring Winslow Homer illustrations.

NAMOS, which was founded in 1959 by Glidden, a former squash champion and portrait artist, has had a distinguished history. Its first location opened at Madison Square Garden in 1968, moving on to New Haven, Conn., in 1979. Indianapolis became the museum’s new home after the 1987 Pan American Games. It has a collection of more than 1,000 works of art, and also has displayed the sports art of Thomas Eakins, George Bellows and Andy Warhol. NAMOS logo

NAMOS exhibits have taken place at more than 100 locations, many tied to sporting events, including several Olympiads, the 1964 World’s Fair, the Biennial Exhibit of Sport Art in Madrid and the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

The museum has kept its Twitter account and Facebook page updated, and in recent weeks the latter has featured a number of pieces from the Bradenton exhibit. There are some gorgeous, compelling works in the competition. My favorite is “Leap of Faith,” a painting of swimmers by Ken Buck.

If you can’t get to Florida to see them in person, this is the next best way to admire some very good sports art.

The video below, narrated by Frank Deford, was produced when NAMOS was still located at IUPUI. It offers a glimpse of its collection and interviews some prominent sports artists about why — and how — they do what they do. Another great resource is the museum’s YouTube channel.

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