Art and Sports: Are the Two Camps Really So Opposed?

FEBRUARY 25! BURNAWAY is hosting its Art Crush Bash 2012 from 7 to 10PM at 7 Stages!

As February arrives, something (instinct? nature? Cupid? well-timed marketing campaigns?) inspires us to reveal to those we’re crushing on our hidden fervor. It’s the month during which those who inspire us, romantically or otherwise, are lavished with our attention and praise. In that spirit, BURNAWAY presents the Art Crush Bash 2012, an event that will include the auctioning of ‘experiences’ with Atlanta-area creatives—a chance for you, the reader, to bid on quality time with that certain Atlanta art leader that you simply adore. The idea for the event (and the Art Crush column itself) is that of BURNAWAY co-founder Susannah Darrow:

“The Art Crush Auction came about last year originally. All of the people we’ve profiled for the interview series has really diverse and amazing projects that they work on, and we had the discussion that it would be really fantastic to show them off outside of the column,” says Darrow. “When Laura Hennighausen and Sandy Hooper started working with me on the column, we also started getting really fantastic original photographs, which led to a somewhat joking conversation about the fact that it would be funny to have posters or calendars to show off all of the crushes, Tiger Beat style.”

Chris Appleton is auctioning off a trip to a Braves Game and a vegan lunch that he'll prepare for you himself . Photo by Ben Grad.

The Art Crush Bash itself will take place on Saturday, February 25th at 7 Stages and is scheduled to begin at 7PM. Aside from the local celebrity-bartender-designed cocktails, a fake tattoo booth featuring Sam Parker, and a generally festive environment, the occasion will focus on the auction itself. The Art Crush’s ‘experiences’ are each unique to the individuals sharing them, ranging from trips to the farmer’s market and a Buddhist Temple to having your portrait done then catching a cup of coffee to viewing a private screening and getting a limited edition framed still.

Then there are the sporting events.

While looking over the list of experiences on the auction block, we couldn’t help but notice that many include some manner of athletic event. We have a trip to a Braves game, Michael Jordan cosmic bowling, a session of FitWit boot camp, and even a round of golf. This inclusion of sports into an art event, especially one so geared towards a playfully romantic vibe, struck some as odd and prompted us at BURNAWAY to explore the age-old stereotype that art and sports don’t mix.

After all, the swaggering, self-confident sportsman is entirely removed from the bookish intellectuals of gallery shows and charity art auctions, right? To compare one to the other slanders both, no? Certainly the years of conventional wisdom on this subject can’t be purely fabricated, can it? We asked some of the Art Crushes their thoughts on the subject.

Explore the intersection of art and aesthetics during a round of golf with heart-throb Michael David Murphy.

WonderRoot founder and former long-time baseball shortstop Chris Appleton allotted the seeming disparity of the two cultures to a simple matter of time allocation:

“I know a lot of people that are sports fans that are also involved in the arts community. I think the reason that they seem separate at times is that sports fans, or fanatics, are just that, fanatical. They’re incredibly passionate. And the same is true of art fans. Typically people aren’t fanatical about lots of things at once. You can only check so many websites a day. People simply have a limited space in their lives for passion. So it’s rare, or at least a bit less common, that someone is passionate about both things.”

Appleton makes a good point, to be sure, but a question remained: There are many types of passions, each of which can possess the bulk of a person’s time, but why are these two specific areas of interest so often painted as polar opposites?

Photographer, videographer, and writer, Michael David Murphy offered a different take on the subject.

“But it all goes back to high school, right?” points out the multi-talented Murphy, whose auctioned experience includes a round of golf. “Jocks on one side, geeks and artists on the other? That attitude, like many formed when we were sixteen, may have unfortunately carried over into the wider cultural landscape, but I’ve never met an artist worth their salt who perpetuates the arbitrary nature of that divide.”

Winners of Fahamu Pecou's 'experience' will get to share a beer and a match of Michael Jordan cosmic bowling. Photo by Sandy Hooper.

Fair enough. The attitude is perhaps simply that, a holdover from the less mature days of our youth. Does that mean that this long-held idea is simply without merit? Artist Fahamu Pecou, whose experience includes Michael Jordan cosmic bowling, thinks just that.

“I think the spirit of competition coupled with fire and drive actually makes art and sport more synonymous than our culture is ready to admit. Personally I am not a huge fan of commercialized sports. I don’t have a favorite NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL team for example. But I do have a great deal of reverence for the athlete, as an artist, and artists as athletes navigating the field of the art world. It is possible to be a fan of both worlds, because they are one in the same.”

It seems that the imagined stigma supposedly held by the cloistered arts community against sports and athleticism (and, of course, vice verse) simply proves counterfeit when held against the back-light of lived reality and its more nuanced, entangled personal interests. And this is a good thing. On Saturday the 25th, a person can enjoy an Art Crush Bash steeped in bookish creativity (and perhaps a bit of romance) while allowing that your bids might land you on the 5th tee of a golf course or jeering against whichever team is unlucky enough to play our Atlanta Braves.

BURNAWAY is hosting its Art Crush Bash 2012 on Saturday, February 25 at 7 Stages from 7 to 10PM. Between top-notch cocktails, a fake tattoo booth featuring designs by Sam Parker, and a chance to win some quality time with that special, tiger-eyed creative, you won’t want to miss out. This is also a great way to support BURNAWAY as it works to meet its challenge grant. We hope to see you there!

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  • James McConnell
    February 2, 2012 at

    Susannah Darrow:  Queen of the Bobbleheads

    • Susannah
      February 2, 2012 at

      I have bobbleheads fashioned of every Art Crush following the interview. It’s my personal way of cataloging you all and keeping you with me for always. You and Mark are siamese twin bobbleheads holding Taco Bells. 

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