The Abstract Athlete art exhibition highlights former athletes, veterans turned artists

The Abstract Athlete art exhibition highlights former athletes, veterans turned artists
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Galerie Jumelles

Galerie Jumelles is an online Art Gallery founded by Sierra M. Bretz. Inspired by the French language and lifestyle, Sierra closed her business and her life in the US in 2021 to move to France to promote French Artists.

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Two of, visual artist and former Ohio State football player, Percy King’s woodworking pieces are being displayed at The Abstract Athlete art exhibition, one being a depiction of Mohammad Ali and the other of the Notorious B.I.G. Credit: Molly Goheen | LTV Arts and Life Producer

Former Ohio State football player Percy King first learned his love of art in elementary school, but when football forced him into a busy schedule, his artistic endeavors were put on the back burner. Once King’s career with Ohio State closed in 2000, his pursuit to make art returned. 

King is not alone in his passion for both athletics and arts. 

The Abstract Athlete art exhibition opened Sept. 2 at Ohio State’s Faculty Club. The exhibition, curated by co-founder of The Abstract Athlete and former Ohio State baseball player Ron Johnson, highlights artists who are former professional athletes or veterans. 

Johnson created brand alongside Chris Clemmer, former Ohio State soccer player and designer.

“About six years ago, because we were both high-level athletes, we started discussing that kind of overlap between sports and art and the benefit that both have on our mental health or health in general. It kind of developed from there,” Johnson said. “We started finding other professional athletes and veterans that are also artists, thinking about how they can inspire truly anybody to be creative again.” 

Robie Benve, Faculty Club art coordinator, said The Abstract Athlete is one of about six exhibits the Club hosts each year, and it features painting, photography, woodworking and digital art. The exhibition, which highlights 16 former athletes and veterans, is free and will run through Oct. 28. 

Johnson said The Abstract Athlete brand includes a podcast, art exhibitions and plans for an artist residency, all to bring attention to the benefits physicality and creativity have on mental health. 

“For athletes, we talk about runner’s high, or for artists, being in the zone,” Johnson said. “I say this all the time, you get in what is called the flow state where you just kind of disappear, and it’s nice. It’s like it just takes away daily issues.” 

Among the 18 works in the art exhibition, two are woodworking pieces created by King, who said art has improved his mental health. King’s pieces depict Muhammad Ali and The Notorious B.I.G., both with personal ties to his life. 

“I was in high school when the Notorious B.I.G.’s first album came out, so those were the songs that I used to listen to before the games in the ‘Shoe, before we’d go out, throughout the day when we were watching films and doing walkthroughs,” King said.

Just as his Notorious B.I.G. piece reminds King of his days in the ‘Shoe, King said some of his other works remind him of those close to him. 

“I’m a huge fan of Prince, and I always tell people I got that because of my sister who was seven years older than me,” King said. “She passed in 1993, but I had that connection to her through listening to Prince’s music, watching the movie Purple Rain and just seeing videos of him. Every time I look at him, I think about her. So, when I made that piece, I was like spending time with my sister.” 

Johnson said The Abstract Athlete art exhibition and the brand as a whole hopes to inspire people to be creative, physically active and eat right. The exhibition also helps tackle mental health, specifically post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, which impact many veterans and former athletes. 

“Abstract, I think, is a great word because it can mean anything,” Johnson said. “The athlete part was interesting because we wanted to have veterans or military involved who are dealing with PTSD or TBI. Come to find out, they use the phrase ‘tactical athlete’ among military personnel. So, it was, like, interesting that we were thinking about these things and didn’t know that term until afterward.”

This content was originally published here.