March Madness theme coming to Athenaeum gallery

A hoops-focused exhibit by Chicago artist Nick Conlon, Broken Rims & Dirty Dreams, will be on exhibit in the lobby outside the Athenaeum’s Basile Theatre starting Friday, March 12, with an in-person opening reception on Friday, March 19, and a First Friday reception on Friday, April 2.

The exhibit is an extension of the same exhibit now on display in the Schwitzer Gallery in the Circle City Industrial Complex.

Conlon, who grew up in Chicago with dreams of basketball stardom, said he is now realizing those goals through art. But one thing, he said, has stayed the same: Ball is life. “I don’t think I’m going to make it to ‘The League.’ I’m an artist now, so I’m turning these pieces of forgotten equipment – and the dreams they signify – into beautiful sculptures.”

Conlon says his show is about the equipment used to play basketball, “…and by used I mean overused, worn out, ripped apart, broken, torn down, tethered, recycled, and repurposed. I’m talking about rims that have been beaten up and dunked on, shot on 100,000 times.”

He likens the backboards on which he paints as if they were canvases, to people. “I feel they’re just like human beings,” he said. “They are all the same, yet different. They all need love. They all need to be encouraged and lifted up and sometimes cleaned up a little bit, just to feel alive again.”

ARTWORK ABOVE: Artist Nick Conlon believes basketball is “inextricable from the idea of life itself – at least for a kid from the Midwest.”