Today was Muhammad Ali’s 71st birthday but I’m the one that received a birthday treat: the opportunity to visit the Ali Center in Louisville. It’s just shy of ridiculous that today was the first time I stepped inside the museum dedicated to the life and legacy of arguably Kentucky’s most internationally-renowned son. The occasion that precipitated my long overdue visit was a special media preview of the temporary exhibit Ali: The Greatest. Twenty-one artists from across the country contributed their talents to the fine art exhibition, curated by A. Michelle and Brady Blakeley, co-owners of the Evolve Gallery in Sacramento, California. Works by local artists Corinne Pondell Holt of Louisville and Josh Mitcham of Webster are also on display. (As I spoke with her, Holt’s delight at being part of the exhibition and her passion for Ali as a subject were palpable.)
As I chatted with two of the out-of-town artists—Walter Lobyn Hamilton from Indianapolis and Kevin Okeith from Chicago—about their pieces (Hamilton’s is a bold portrait created using pieces of LP vinyl; Okeith’s a textural and complex painting created using a palette knife), I couldn’t help but feel proud that I share a hometown with the source of their creative inspiration: Ali. As I strolled through the Center after viewing the exhibition, that sense of pride kept bubbling up. To say the Center is impressive and way cool is an understatement.
Click on the slideshow link to the left to see a few photos of artwork included in The Greatest. Or, better yet, don’t be like me and wait far too long to make a trip to the Ali Center. The special exhibition is on display through March 16. Visit the Muhammad Ali Center’s website for more information.
- Kim, executive editor