The American Sport Art Museum and Archives’ (ASAMA) 2013 Sport Artist of the Year are two world-renowned artists who have both created award-winning Olympic art.
American sculptor Edward Eyth and Australian painter Charles Billich were honored at the Academy’s Awards of Sport annual event, “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete,” held Thursday, Nov. 14 at the university’s Daphne, Ala., campus. Both honorees received medals and plaques at the celebration.
“Billich is recognized as one of the world’s best sport artist to date,” said United States Sports Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich. “He continues to create art and is prolific as ever.”
Billich’s art has been featured in popular venues such as the White House, the United Nations (UN) Headquarters and the Vatican. A Yugoslavia ballet student until he fled his home in the 1950s, Billich used dance as an inspiration for his most recent featured paintings.
In May, Billich traveled to paint the principals of Beijing’s ballet and opera. The Billich Gallery, one of Australia’s leading contemporary art galleries and a premier venue in Sydney, features his paintings in the exhibit “A Collection Of Dance & Art.” From there, the ballet paintings are set to tour London, Los Angeles and Switzerland.
Beijing is a familiar city for Billich, as he created the “Beijing Millenium Cityscape,” a painting that helped China win its bid to host the 2008 Olympics. Billich’s artistic involvement with sport spans over the course of five Olympiads.
Billich was previously named Sport Artist of the Year in 2000 and joins Earnie Barnes as the only artist to receive the honor twice. Barnes earned the designation in 1984 and 2004.
Inspired by the beauty and eloquence of the human form, many of Eyth’s sculptures have been recognized internationally. The artist’s sculpture, “Balance,” which features a gymnast gracefully poised on a balance beam, was selected as winner in the sculpture category at the 2008 United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport and Art Contest. The sculpture was then a finalist at the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Sport and Art Contest in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“It’s an outstanding honor and career highlight to receive this award,” Eyth said about being named the Sport Artist of the Year. “I’m genuinely grateful to the American Sport Art Museum and Archives for this recognition, and for their exceptional efforts in supporting athletic achievement, culture and the arts.”
A graphic works finalist in the 2012 national contest for American artists, Eyth submitted “Olympic Spirit,” a painting that depicts a male and female athlete elevating the five rings that symbolize the Olympics. He did a similar large outdoor sculpture that received the Olympic Rings Award and was selected for inclusion in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Landscape Sculpture Design Exhibition.
Eyth’s sculptures have won multiple other awards and are featured in select private collections around the globe and as part of the permanent collection at ASAMA.
Sport Artist of the Year has honored numerous internationally recognized artists who produce great sport art, including Birmingham, Ala., painter Daniel Moore, lauded as the finest chronicler of the most legendary moments in University of Alabama sports (2005); San Diego painter Kadir Nelson, a groundbreaking visual storyteller whose images of African American sports players perpetuate their culture and heritage; and Russian sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov, a symbolist sport sculptor whose works have been displayed globally and featured in the Olympics.
The ASAMA holds arguably the largest collection of sport art in the world. For more information, visit the ASAMA website.