Few artists can capture the image of the athlete like Rick Rush, Harry Weber and John Rezner. They each have different ways of capturing that image, but all three were named 2011 Sport Artist of the Year by the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA).
Rush does it through painting, Weber with bronze statues and Rezner with face jugs, but all can thank Rush for his battle to earn a trade with his creations.
Rush, the 2011 ASAMA Sport Artist of the Year, Painter, won a significant court battle for his right to draw, paint, and sell the images of star athletes when Tiger Woods sued for royalties on a painting Rush made of the golfer when he won the 1997 Master’s golf tournament. In 2009, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Rush’s favor, finding the paintings to be a form of artistic expression, and the protection of such works under the First Amendment to outweigh whatever interest the state may have in enforcing the right of publicity.
Weber, the 2011 Sport Artist of the Year, Sculptor, is a man who has had a busy decade decorating the country with bronze statues. Thirty-six out of forty-four of his most noted works have been displayed at major venues over the last decade. This includes 10 statues displayed at the St. Louis Cardinals’ newest version of the Busch Stadium. Weber’s sculptures are in a permanent collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. and are featured at the Museum of Fine Arts in Newport, R.I. Weber has won major awards at national juried competitions, and his bronze sculptures are in many private collections throughout the world.
Rezner, the 2011 Sport Artist of the Year, Ceramics, is a potter known for his “face jugs,” jugs shaped with an individual’s facial features. The Fairhope, Alabama-based artist makes pottery, which is on display all over the world, from clay he digs from his own land. Baldwin County clay is highly prized for its aesthetic qualities. A member of the Academy’s Art Committee, in 2006 Rezner created a face of the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, leader of millions of Shaolin Buddhists. He has been commissioned to make face jugs of famous baseball players for the Academy’s “Mr. Baseball” campaign, a worldwide online vote to name a new baseball statue that is to be erected in front of the Academy next year.
The Sport Artist of the Year Award is presented annually to an individual who captures the spirit and life of sport so that future generations can relive the drama of today’s competition. The recipient may use a variety of art media to depict the breadth and scope of both the agony and the ecstasy of sport.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA, a division of the United States Sports Academy, is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,500 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints, and photographs.
The museum is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.