Athletics as Art                                  

Clinton J. Holloway


Athletics are the rage this month with both the annual Super Bowl taking place in the U.S. and the quadrennial Winter Olympics hosted in Sochi, Russia on the Black Sea. Millions of people around the globe will have watched these sporting events, either in person or on screen.


Athletics are an important part of the lives of many as an activity, but is it art? In honor of the recent Super Bowl, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is staging an exhibition of football cards. An assistant curator is quoted as saying, “Commercially produced lithography is part of our printed visual culture; it’s viewed within the spectrum of what art is.”


We agree. A grouping of football cards or other vintage athletic ephemera would look great on the wall as an “art” display. Many GasLamp dealers sell such wares, including Showcase S-530 at GasLamp, which carries charing old cards, ephemera and vintage athletic equipment. Likewise, W-215 has great ready-to-hang wall art created from both vintage and modern athletic images.


As for printed images, Booth B-165 offers a large framed print by Bart Forbes, signed and numbered, commemorating the Boston Marathon (photo, above right). It also features athletic equipment, and everything is currently offered with a 25% discount.


If you prefer a greater dimensionality to your wall art, why not consider decorating with vintage sporting goods? At GasLamp Two, I found a couple of booths featuring vintage bicycles. Have you ever thought about the sculptural qualities in the graceful, curving lines of a vintage bike? Booth T-1005 has a red woman’s vintage Free Spirit bicycle in un-restored condition – what a great patina – for $300. Nearby, T-307 is offering two stunning restored to “showroom” new examples; a red Western Flyer is tagged at $700 while a Super Deluxe Blue Monarch is $1,200 (photo, above). I can see these hanging on a wall or even from the exposed beam of a loft.


Looking at various pieces of vintage athletic equipment as art made me consider these objects anew. In the same booth as the Boston Marathon print, Booth B-165, I saw an old blue swirl bowling ball (photo, right; $35 with 25 percent off). Booth B-231 has a luminous red ball embedded with gold flecks. Looking at them with a fresh perspective, I saw them not as worn out bowling balls but repurposed as gazing balls adding color and shape to the lawn or garden; beautifully colored sculptural orbs.


With this perspective in mind, what could you do with a pair of rusted ice skates or a basket full of old croquet mallets? I once supplied a college with more than a dozen vintage tennis racquets, which they intended for decoration in a tennis club house. There are endless decorating possibilities.


If you prefer a more classical approach to your athletics in art, Booth T-101 is offering a classically formed archer sculpture for $245 (photo, left). Though it has the look of a Greek god carved of stone, this Olympian is cast of plaster with a “metal” bow. When we think of the athletes who first competed in the ancient games, this is certainly what comes to mind.

Whatever your favorite sport, there is bound to be some athletically-inspired art to suit your tastes at both GasLamp and GasLamp Too.


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