At the DIA creativity is at the center of many things that we do, and lately we have been envisioning ways we can bring the arts and sports together. I believe this partnership is a powerful one, which allows for new and inspiring connections to be made in our diverse communities.

River Rouge High School basketball team
Last month, for instance, we focused on the world of basketball and celebrated the accomplishments of Detroit Piston Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). We hosted many retired NBA players and lovers of the sport, many of whom flew in from all over the country to honor Lloyd's career and see a new documentary about his life, screened in our very own Detroit Film Theatre. Included among those in attendance were former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a Pistons legend in his own right, and the River Rouge high school basketball team (above), sharply dressed in their official team blazers. I had never seen so many tall people enjoying the Rivera murals.

 

Three nights later, the DIA welcomed the Pistons for a team event--another highlight of the month. The team toured the art collection with DIA staff and enjoyed a dinner in the Great Hall while a DJ enlivened the evening with occasional musical interludes from one of the players, Andre Drummond. I enjoy seeing athletes in the museum. They are like artists in their own fashion. Artists and athletes are creative individuals, problem solvers who care very much about beauty--a beautiful play on the basketball court or a beautiful figure rendered on the canvas, both artistic expressions. In my remarks that evening, I told the players that I see them handling the basketball like painters employing their brushes. For those who love the sport, I am sure you agree that basketball is art in motion--I have personally seen some masterpieces at the Palace.

 

Some might think that my comments about art and sports are a bit bizarre. However, I am not the first one to think this way. Ancient Greeks and Romans saw the direct connection between art and sports. In the Greek city of Olympia, where the ancient Olympics took place, the competition was not only among athletes but also among poets, painters, and others representing a number of artistic disciplines. As a matter of fact, the Olympic games were a celebration of the great accomplishments of the sports and the arts. The winners were crowned with laurel wreaths--the gold medals are more a phenomenon of our times.

If the Greeks and the Romans did it, I think the DIA can do it too. Stay tuned. We have plenty of opportunities in Detroit--a city with an extraordinary tradition of excellence in sports and the arts. We look forward to fostering and celebrating this relationship with all types of athletes and artists in the seasons to come.

Salvador Salort-Pons Director Detroit Institute of Arts
Categories:  From The Director