It doesn’t get much more Philadelphia than the Sixers. From Wilt Chamberlain to Julius Erving to Allen Iverson to Joel Embiid, it’s a franchise rich in history and big personalities that perfectly encapsulate the city.
Those characters lend themselves perfectly to art — to their virtuoso performances on the floor and their larger-than-life personas off it.
That’s just part of the reason the Sixers will be holding the first-ever “76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition” beginning this Saturday at the Fitler Club. The exhibition will showcase the crossover between basketball, art and the city of Philadelphia.
Basketball is unlike other sports in that it seems to transcend these other walks of life. After seeing other NBA teams host similar events, Desron Dorset, the Sixers’ VP of business development, said “why not us?”
“So we took a look, we did some research and we realized that the 76ers are Philadelphia's team and we do a good job talking to our basketball folks … let's talk to the non-basketball folks,” Dorset said. “So this art event was the first aha in terms of why not talk to more people in different facets. So the 76ers Crossover now has become more than just the art event. It's just our first foray as I would call it into the culture but we're looking at food, fashion, music, as well as art. And we're going to actually take this crossover into the culture.”
The exhibit will feature over 200 pieces created by artists all over the world. While Dorset enlisted the help of a company called “Conscious Basketball” to help find global artists, he also wanted to make sure that Philly was well represented.
Dorset found local artists through an Instagram account called “Peopleadelphia.” The page is run by Brendan Lowry, who takes pictures of people that are representative of the city. With Lowry’s help, they found several local artists.
Having that local influence was something Dorset felt strongly about.
“We didn't want to lose sight of Philadelphia in this whole outreach, because Philadelphia, I mean, one of the most iconic places in Philadelphia is the art museum, right?” Dorset said. “So it was important for us to have a large amount of artists from Philadelphia.”
There are a wide variety of pieces that can be seen throughout the exhibit, which is open to the public starting at 8 p.m. Saturday until the following Tuesday. They commissioned 20 local artists to use the blank versions of the Sixers’ 2017-18 City Edition jerseys as a canvas. Reebok, who is sponsoring the event, will also have a live paint event on a pair of white Reeboks that fans will have a chance to win.
Asked which item he was most excited about, Dorset pointed to a piece inspired by Mike Scott and the Hive, saying, “if I'm a Hive member, I would love this Mike Scott piece.”
This seems like a cool event for fans of the Sixers, art and those who are fans of both.
“The real challenge for us is like, what is next year? What is year two? What's the focus on that?” Dorset said. “And that's where the fun comes. So it was very easy to answer your question, but we're already thinking about year two, because we know this is going to be an annual event.”
If you’re looking for more info on the event, you can get it here. It’s also important to note that if you’d like to own a piece of Sixers-influenced art — looking at you, Hive members — you can bid on the Sixers’ team app.
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