The LSU Museum of Art is opening a new exhibit entitled, “LeRoy Neiman: Action!,” celebrating the life and works of famed sports artist LeRoy Neiman.
Museum curator Katie Pfohl has only been at the museum for a month and a half and said the Neiman exhibit is the first exhibit she put together. The museum staff had previously collaborating and organizing the exhibit before Pfohl came, but she said she has been shaping and planning the programming for the show since her arrival.
As curator, Pfohl said she is responsible for permanent exhibitions at the museum and also organizing special exhibitions — like the Neiman exhibit — where art is brought in from across the country or the world. The Neiman exhibit consists of pieces from the LeRoy Neiman Foundation in New York City.
The museum created the idea for the exhibit in hopes of identifying and catering to the interests of the community, Pfohl said. The LeRoy Neiman Foundation, originally established by Neiman and his wife in 1986, has promoted and preserved his art since his death in 2012.
Pfohl said it was clear to those at the museum that doing an exhibit involving arts and sports was a good idea but were waiting for the right project to showcase a great artist.
“Neiman is really the perfect artist for that,” Pfohl said. “There is both this LSU connection and this really talented artist which are things we always try to balance.
Neiman pioneered a relationship between sports and fine arts that Pfohl said would be interesting to expose to the Baton Rouge community.
The exhibit, which involved more than two years of planning and organizing, features more than 80 pieces by Neiman. While Neiman is famous for his brightly-colored serigraphs—or poster prints—of various athletes and moments in sports history, the museum will focus on his drawings and sketches. The show will display 10 to 12 serigraphs while the remaining pieces will be drawings and sketches Neiman drew from the sidelines, Pfohl said.
The exhibit will also feature various installations to attract sports fans to the art world, Pfohl said. Wood cut-outs 16 feet fall of football players based on Neiman’s drawings will be hung along the walls.
Pfohl said she sought to bring the University more into the exhibit and will display installations of baseballs and footballs painted by Neiman and accompany them with 91 baseballs signed by LSU baseball greats and footballs signed by championship teams and players from the past 30 years.
“For us, this exhibition is about finding ways to celebrate this artist,” Pfohl said, “But also to make this a celebration of LSU sports and the interest in sports in the community.”
With this exhibit, Pfohl said the museum has the chance to draw in a more diverse audience and bring in people who never enjoyed art before.
“We’re really going to be seeking to involve the community in a rich and powerful way,” Pfohl said.
One of the Pfohl’s biggest goals for the exhibit is to show that art is not only hung on museum walls but how it makes its way into popular culture, she said.
The response to the exhibition has already been so great, Pfohl said, the museum is already looking for more ways to speak to the sports community through different programming.
“Hopefully, one of the results of this exhibition will be a lasting relationship between the sports community and the museum,” Pfohl said.
Pfohl said the museum is bringing in a new installation to the permanent collection in the next year that will focus on the state and its history to bring a dynamic and educational space for community outreach.
The opening reception for the Neiman exhibit will be sports-themed with popcorn popping and other sports-related food being served.
“It’s going to be a total blast,” Pfohl said.
“LeRoy Neiman: Action!” opens Aug. 1 and runs through Jan. 18. The opening reception for the exhibit will be held Thursday from 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at the museum. Admission is free for members of the museum and 10 dollars for non-members.