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Benchwarmers Gallery Exhibition at Blockfort Tributes Sports Nostalgia

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Benchwarmers Gallery Exhibition at Blockfort Tributes Sports NostalgiaRight: Screenprints by Micah Kraus. Photo by Taijuan Moorman.
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Blockfort’s latest gallery exhibition, entitled “Benchwarmers,” is a nostalgic tribute to the sports, teams, players and icons artists grew up with.

The exhibition, organized by Blockfort tenant and co-owner of Alison Rose Screen Printing Nicholas Nocera, will feature 14 artists with varying approaches to the sports theme of the exhibition.

For instance, artist Julie Martin chose to illustrate a sports memory from her childhood.

“She didn’t come from a sports-oriented family, but this represents a time when she was playing t-ball where she kept missing,” Nocera says of the piece. “She was able to hit the ball four times, but she kept missing so they just told her to ‘run home’ anyway.”

Nocera’s wife, Alison, chose to tribute Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis. At the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Louganis hit his head on the springboard, leading to a concussion. He then went on to when gold in the final round of the games.

Artists from left: Corey Favor, Julie Martin and Clinton Reno

Alison Rose Nocera’s piece “Greg,” based on Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis.

Other artists featured will including Corey Favor, Roger Kent Grosswiler Jr., Micah Kraus, Linda Lay, Michael Litzau, Jamarr Michael Mays, Mike Neeson, Clinton Reno, Sarah Schmidt, Claire Smith, Marshall L. Shorts Jr. and Milan Zori. Many of the artists are from Columbus and even attended the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), but artists from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Milwaukee are featured as well.

“This is the first time I’ve created any kind of show, so it’s a learning experience for me,” Nocera says, “but also a way to reach out to either artists that I’ve always admired or friends that I know that still make art that I met in high school or college.”

Many of the pieces in this show are brand new, Nocera says. “The works that I got back weren’t necessarily what I was expecting, which is actually a good thing. I just thought people would take one or two of their sports icons, and kind of do a tribute to them.”

Linda Lay’s portraits of ‘80s and ’90s wrestlers explore masculinity and internet culture.

For Nocera, “Benchwarmers” represents something he knows nothing about. As a kid, he wasn’t really into sports. He had posters of Michael Jordan on his wall like many kids his age, but he didn’t pay much attention to the games.

“I was never into sports, I was in the marching band,” he says. “So, one of my only memories of playing sports as a kid was sitting on the bench during basketball season, and being in the halftime show during my fifth grade game.”

However, after putting this gallery together, Nocera has developed a somewhat different take on the impact sports had on him growing up.

“It became like, looking back at my youth and how we grew up with these heroes on our wall, but maybe they were like superheroes to us,” he says.

The Benchwarmers gallery will run from March 6 through 28. There will be an opening reception on Friday, March 9, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Blockfort. Find more information on the Columbus Underground event page.

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