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Artist Features LeBron,'The Block' in 'My American Dream' Exhibit

Artist Keith Mayerson isn’t really a sports fan, but he can’t help but feel inspired by LeBron James.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship last summer he painted “The Block,” which captures the moment LeBron stopped Andre Iguodala from scoring in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

“Really with ‘The Block,’ the key to me was that he’s a spiritual guy,” he said. “I realized that beyond breaking ‘The Curse’ and being a hero for all of Ohio… he's really doing it for the bigger picture.”

Mayerson’s painting of LeBron is on view in Cleveland in his solo exhibition at MOCA, “My American Dream.” The show features paintings from the past two decades and reflects on his own life and personal experiences.

“For me it’s about Andrew and I, we’ve been together 26 years and we got married the first Sunday you could in California… and everything that could have helped make that occur,” he said. “Historical figures, political figures [and] cultural figures that helped bring about agency for all people are very much included in the show.”

The Cincinnati-born artist Mayerson felt LeBron needed to be a part of the story for the Cleveland exhibit, and he created three additional paintings depicting moments in his sports career. Those paintings weave together with dozens of others, including depictions of Superman, the Obamas and New York City. It’s all hung salon style to conjure connections for people taking in the art.

“Everything ultimately has a reason to be next to what it's next to,” he said. “Even though the audience might not get it completely… it becomes meaningful to them.”

The collection on view will likely evolve for Mayerson, an art professor at USC in California.

“I have a feeling it is going to continue as long as these ideas are burning within me,” he said.

As for painting LeBron, he says he might do one more if the Cavaliers win the NBA Finals this year.

“My American Dream” is on display through September 17. 

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