The bass of a Drake song beats methodically as curator Vince Chang photographs art pieces on his smartphone. He is doing this so he can upload the photos to the Raptors app, where fans are able to bid on the pieces.
Chang, who lives in New York, is the curator of the “Art of the North” exhibit, which is a collaboration between the Toronto Raptors and Conscious Basketball. The exhibit, which was located at The Lounge at Live Nation, features over 100 pieces of Raptors-inspired art such as sculptures, paintings, sneakers, and photos that were created by 40 artists who live in Toronto, but some also as far away as Japan.
“The interesting thing is when we put on these shows, and show people our work, they are genuinely amazed and say ‘Wow! Basketball and art can actually go together,'” Chang said.
Art of The North now open!
Event details 🎨 » https://t.co/0HrksGIghk pic.twitter.com/C8ez1OMSIq
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 11, 2019
Conscious Basketball has hosted basketball-themed art exhibits all over North America in the past few years. Following an exhibit in San Francisco for the Golden State Warriors, the Toronto Raptors reached out to Chang to do something similar to engage their fans.
Social media has played a large role in this exhibit. Chang discovers most of the artwork over social media, where the artists and their work are “just a click away.” He then selects which pieces best suit the exhibit that he is currently working on, and puts them on display.
Michael Wu, who lives in Los Angeles, has been an artist since he was five years old. He says he has always been a huge basketball fan, and has been drawing NBA players from all teams. He adds a sci-fi alien-like twist to the players’ portraits
Being a part of this exhibit has given him “a feeling of pride and joy because I put a lot of time into my art,” Wu said, in an Instagram message, from his home in California. “The Raptors’ involvement in this exhibit is extra validating for me.”
Chang said that the turnout was definitely what he hoped for. The Raptors weren’t sure what to expect from the exhibit, but ended up loving it. Of the 89 pieces available for auction, 57 pieces were sold. The proceeds of the auctioned pieces will go directly to the MLSE Foundation, the charity arm of the team’s owners.
Chang hopes that because the Raptors loved his exhibit, he will be able to host another bigger Raptors show in the future.