By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
An invitation only event will be held on Thursday evening, May 5 for the Desmond Mason Art Exhibit and Sale at the Big Water Grill inside RIVERSPORT Rapids Whitewater Center, 800 Riversport Drive, in Oklahoma City. Proceeds from the event will benefit the OKC Boathouse Foundation.
The exhibition will feature a custom painting commemorating the opening of the Riversport Rapids whitewater rafting and kayaking center, paddles and oars custom painted by the artist, and a live artistic creation by Desmond Mason featuring dancers from the OKC Ballet.
Event chairs are Mary Blankenship Pointer, and Chris and Lisa Lawson.
“Due to the NBA playoffs in Oklahoma City, many special guests will be attending this wonderful event,” Pointer said.
The passion for art began at an early age for Mason. It became his refuge, a channel through which he would overcome adversity and express himself.
“I have always painted by emotion,” Mason said. “Art calms and blesses me. Art has helped mold me because it allows me to be free.”
Born and raised in Waxahachie, Texas, the many challenges of Desmond’s early childhood were compounded by a scalding that badly scarred his legs. Later, those scars would provide motivation for him to prove himself and satisfy his competitive spirit.
A gifted multi-sport athlete, he became a high school basketball star and earned a scholarship to Oklahoma State University where he majored in Studio Art, studied art history and honed his drawing and painting skills.
Under OSU coach Eddie Sutton, Mason continued to flourish as a basketball player and appeared in three NCAA tournaments.
During his senior season he received national recognition for both his basketball and artistic abilities. He was featured in Sports Illustrated and collected All-Conference and National Honors with the team advancing to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament.
In 2000, the Seattle Supersonics drafted Desmond in the first round of the NBA draft. During Mason’s 10-year NBA career, he played for the SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Hornets and Thunder, and the Sacramento Kings. He won the NBA Slam Dunk competition in 2001. After retiring from basketball in 2009, Desmond settled in Oklahoma City.
“The most important thing in my life is my family and happiness,” Desmond said. “My children, Jada and Elijah are, and have always been my inspiration. God blessed me with this artistic talent and I will continue to use it to make a difference.”
Desmond has sold more than 250 of his original pieces to collectors all over the world.
He founded the annual Desmond Mason Art Show in 2004 where he sells his art to benefit a variety of causes and charities. Well known for his philanthropy, in one 2-hour live auction event 23 paintings were sold and raised over $375,000.
Being aware of the challenges faced by young people, Mason is committed to using his artistic talents to help children, build a community and inspire others.
Mason’s beneficiaries include the Boys and Girls Club, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, White Fields home for boys, the NFL Players’ Association scholarship fund, and Allied Arts of Oklahoma City.
His artistic talents have allowed him to hold solo art exhibitions around the world. His work has been exhibited in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Dallas, NYC, Bahamas, Oklahoma City, and at one of the largest art events in the world Miami Art Basel.
His client list includes George Clooney, Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber, Sports Announcer Joe Buck, and Mike Meldman of Discovery Land Company.
“This body of work is one of my favorites to date,” Mason said. “The variety of art and the flow from extreme contemporary works with geometric components to erratic and flowing brush strokes make the mind and eye wander.
“My goal was to put together a body of work that would intrigue all viewers and also draw them in closer to see and experience the movement and textures of each piece,” Mason added.
“My work has evolved from just a painting on canvas to a visual experience and I want each person that views my work to draw their own conclusion and meaning of each painting.”