Former NBA Dunk Champion Gets Gallery Solo Show

Desmond Mason.
Photo: Genesis Moss.

Desmond Mason, the former professional basketball player and one-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion, has traded alley-oops for Abstract Expressionism. On September 19 he opened a show of his colorful abstract paintings at Axis Gallery in Seattle, the city he played in from 2000 to 2003 after being drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder). As Mason told the Seattle Times, he started painting when he was 11, but it wasn’t until his fiancée took an art history class and the couple watched a Jackson Pollock documentary together that he started to refine his palette.

“The next day, I went out and bought a canvas and started painting like that in my back yard,” Mason told the Times. “That’s when I changed to being an expressionist.”

The private exhibition at Axis, which was a benefit for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound organization, featured 18 of his paintings priced between $4,000–10,000. The show’s centerpiece, a brand new work titled The Irony of Darks and Lights, was inspired by the landscape of Seattle.

“It has a very serene and soft feel,” the artist said. “I miss driving across the lake on the 520 and getting into downtown and seeing the Space Needle. Even though it was busy and a lot of traffic, for me, it had a serenity.”

Seattle collector and socialite Mary Lytle is a big fan of Mason’s work, and has been following it since his debut exhibition in 2004 at McCaw Hall.

“His style, he shakes it up, so you can buy more than one piece and it doesn’t feel redundant,” Lytle told the Times. “It’s not like he’s erratic and trying to find his style. He has so much to say in so many different ways.”

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