This is the latest in a monthly series in which industry leaders describe the projects and products that give them the most joy and pride. This month, former NBA player and visual artist Desmond Mason reflects on the process of creating “The Wall” in his Oklahoma studio. Desmond Mason: “I’ve always seen art as a way of expressing my feelings, a way to escape my situation, or a way to simply be creative. I’ve learned so much about myself through my creative processes and I’ve always tried to take that knowledge and apply it to my life or the lives of others. Each piece I do has a special place in my heart because it is directly attached to my emotions and my life’s journey. Some of the pieces I’ve created have had significance or importance due to my emotional state, some due to the style, efficiency or creative flow at that time, and some simply because I thought they were my best works. Art is completely subjective and that’s valid even for the artist that actually creates the art piece. Some pieces I’ve created I loved and others I hated or highly dislike, but all in all, I enjoyed the process of creating each one.”
Desmond Mason RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 6-5 / 1.96
Weight:222 lbs. / 100.7 kg.
Height: 6-5 / 1.96
Weight:222 lbs. / 100.7 kg.
In the years since, Mason has sold his work to notables such as movie star George Clooney, sportscaster Joe Buck, nightlife honcho Rande Gerber and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. His colorful abstract art has been shown at Art Basel in Miami, and the married father of two just sold a painting to Chicago businessman David Gupta for $60,000.
Stern asked to buy one of his drawings featured in the magazine — a portrait of Al Pacino in “Carlito’s Way.” “Is he the consigliere of the Gambino family? What is going on?” Mason recalls thinking at the time. Stern paid $500 for the work, though Mason now admits he was so flattered, he would have given it to him for free. The unconventional exchange between commish and first-year player was just the tipoff for Mason’s not-so-average life off the court.
After Mason’s debut, his next seven shows sold out, making his retirement from the NBA in 2009 a smooth transition. His family of four is based in Oklahoma City, and he holds an average of eight exhibitions annually that span the globe. Unlike his debut in 2004, returning to Seattle and seeing his work sell for $4,000 to $10,000 assures Mason he’s on the right path. “I understand what basketball gave me the opportunity to do,” he said. “It gave me a platform to display my art on a high level. But no one is going to buy a painting from Desmond Mason for $15,000 just because he played for the Seattle Sonics and Milwaukee Bucks. There’s a limit. Now, it’s not so much about me playing basketball. It’s more about they love what they’re looking at.”
Mason has since shed his basketball persona for his true passion, being an artist. In his return, Mason filled Axis’ Pioneer Square gallery with abstract works on various mediums for a private exhibition benefiting the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound. In the center of the 18-piece collection was a new piece specifically for the show titled “The Irony of Darks and Lights.” The abstract painting on wood panel looks as if peering through thick evergreens to view Lake Washington. “It has a very serene and soft feel,” Mason 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.”
“I was taught as a realist, and I pretty much got to the point where I was bored of that. … So I went into abstract expressionism and that has evolved over time also,” Mason said in a phone interview Tuesday from London, where he was vacationing with his wife and children.
In more ways than one, Desmond Mason is opening the next chapter of his burgeoning career as an artist. On Friday, his new exhibition “Generation Next: Chapter Two” will debut at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum. The opening reception for the exhibit is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the museum’s Tulsa World Gallery.
Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chris Kattan will play the lead role and is adding to what Mason says is a funny script. Tweeted Kattan on July 3: “I was waiting for a physical comedy vehicle like this for a loooong time! Thanks Oklahoma and timing and universe.” Mason described his role as a “pretty big part.” He said his character speaks only in cliches and won’t hold a normal conversation with anyone. “Throughout the course of the movie, they are asking me a bunch of questions and we are going through a lot of stuff and I am answering with random cliches that mean nothing,” he said. Mason is excited – and intimidated – by his first acting job aside from commercials. Basketball players get accused of acting if they “flop” while trying to draw offensive fouls, but Mason contends he doesn’t have that kind of acting experience.
Desmond Mason once won the NBA’s slam dunk contest. Now he’s lost his sanity, sort of. Mason said he has been cast to play a resident of an insane asylum in a movie being filmed in Oklahoma. “Just Crazy Enough” is a family-friendly comedy about identical twins separated at birth. According to the film’s website (tulsaworld.com/justcrazyenough ), one twin becomes a prominent psychiatrist and the other a lifelong mental patient. The psychiatrist ends up swapping places with a twin he knows nothing about.
Midtown Renaissance announced September 28 that NBA player Desmond Mason is the winner of its Plaza Court Retail Contest. Mason’s proposal for an art studio, which he will use to produce works and host events, was selected for its potential to enhance the creative energy of the district.