As a long-time staple in Syracuse, the Everson Museum of Art with its latest exhibits shows it is in tune with the community through its curation of diverse events for guests to connect with.

This weekend the museum held a reception in celebration of Light Work’s 50th anniversary: selection from Light Work collections and premiered its latest exhibition, Hoop Dreams: Basketball and Contemporary Art. Guests enjoyed live performances, mingled, and viewed art work. 

“The Everson plays such an important role in the community, it’s the city’s big museum, it’s in Downtown Syracuse and we want to be a resource and accessible for people in our community,” said Adam Carlin, the museum’s director of learning and engagement.

The Light Work exhibition features various collections of artworks over the decades. (Check back soon for more coverage of the exhibit by Central Current.)

Hoop Dreams is an immersive exhibition that transcends demographics and interests. It displays the history of basketball, showcases the work of regional and nationally-acclaimed artists, and includes an interactive “on the court” game experience.

“I think this exhibit is a great idea of why the museum is important because people can experience basketball, but in a new way, so they can learn about everything that surrounds basketball, and leaving it to artists to be the ones to explore those things about basketball,” Carlin said.

The concept, curated by Elizabeth Dunbar, director and CEO of the Everson, speaks to Syrcause’s affinity for the sport. And to prove that, the exhibit features the original patent shot clock, which was designed in Syracuse by the late Danny Biasone, former owner of the Syracuse Nationals.

Brooklyn-based artist Michael C. Thorpe, whose work is displayed in the gallery, shared his personal connection to the sport and art. Thorpe played college basketball at Emerson College, a division 3 school in Boston, Massachusetts, and has recently transitioned to making a living as a creative.

Artist Michael C. Thorpe and (@iversonsdurag) centered between his artwork displays featured in the Hoop Dreams: Basketball and Contemporary Art exhibit in the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. Photo by Yolanda Stewart | Central Current.

The thing I learned through playing athletics was the dedication and the work ethic,” he said. “You know, so often nobody sees all the work you put in, they just see the game or the exhibition, they don’t see all the hours you’re by yourself working out or making art.”

During the free winter community day, Thorpe led a quilting activity for all age and skill levels, which emphasized breaking down the barrier of experience level. 

“Everybody is an artist, and I think the thing I’ve been learning is that everybody’s gotta find a medium that speaks to them,” he said.

Among the illustrations throughout the gallery is an interactive piece entitled “Respect the Call,” installed by Jason Middlebrook, varsity basketball coach and former college basketball player.

“This opportunity was like a dream opportunity, to merge my two loves, art and basketball,” Middlebrook said. 

Middlebrook draws his inspiration for the exhibit from his years of playing pickup ball in various basketball courts throughout his life.

“I just always had this idea that it would be great to scatter a space with hoops,” Middlebrook said. 

Artist Jason Middlebrook speaks about the inspiration behind his “Respect the Call” installation at the Hoop Dreams: Basketball and Contemporary Art exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York.

Carlin notes the positive response the guests have shown in participating with the “Respect the Call” interactive piece, where visitors can shoot hoops, practice jumpshots and enjoy a game of basketball in a room replicating a basketball court. 

“It’s great for young people, little kids, it’s great for adults, too, because basketball spans generations,” Carlin said. 

“We’re always very tuned in to the community here at the museum because it’s a big focus of what we do,” Carlin said. 

This past weekend’s affair served as a prerequisite to the numerous community engagement initiatives the Everson has in store for its guests this year. Visit the museum’s official website for all upcoming events.

Both exhibits are on display until mid-May.


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