Olympic Champion and Graphic Artist Bob Beamon

June 1, 2010 8:31:57 AM PDT
Bob Beamon's name is synonymous with the long jump.

An Olympic Gold medalist and national title holder in the sport, Beamon competes on the golf course, not the track these days. The Olympic hero is now a graphic artist based in Chicago. Some may say that art and athletics are not compatible. However, at the ancient Olympic Games, athletes were expected to possess great agility and strength and to nurture the arts. In the Modern Olympics, until 1948, art competitions were held along with sporting events. Olympians showed their skill in architecture, sculpting, painting, literature and music.

Those art-centric Olympic Games are a distant memory. But Beamon is one of several athlete-artists who support The Art of the Olympians www.artoftheolympians.org a new museum-gallery in Fort Myers, Florida. The art center showcases the works of Olympic athletes; it was the dream of American Olympic legend, Al Oerter. He was a four-time consecutive Olympic Gold Medalist in the discus. After he retired, his wife Cathy encouraged his artistic side and Oerter began painting abstracts by dipping his discus in paint and throwing it on a canvas. Oerter believed in training the body in sport and the mind in creativity. In the mid 1990's, Oerter and other like-minded Olympians, organized a successful world art tour entitled Art of the Olympians, to represent a fusion between sport and art. After he died in 2007, his family and fellow Olympians worked to fulfill his dream by establishing a permanent headquarters for Art of the Olympians. It opened just before the Vancouver Olympics last winter. Beamon is one of the founding members.

"My participation in the Art of the Olympians is a natural extension of my athletic career," Beamon says. I find creating a piece of art in many respects mirrors my long jumping efforts illustrating that hard work and inspiration will always be the foundation for success."

The Art of the Olympians displays Oerter's work along with that of more than 30 others ? from fencers to bobsledders, Americans to Australians, sculptors to poets. His close friend, artist and Olympic bobsledder, Liston Bochette is the museum director. Artists include skater Peggy Fleming, swimmer Shane Gould and track stars Marty Liquori and Florence Griffith Joyner. As word spread among Olympic athletes, the collection is expected to grow. On first floor of the ultra-modern building, the Al Oerter Educational Center of Excellence features multi-media Olympic exhibits, touring exhibitions and presentations by Olympians.

For more information, visit www.artoftheolympians.org.


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