Broken Rims and Dirty Dreams
Once the dreams of a child in Chicago wearing The Sacred No. 23, Nick Conlon’s dreams are being realized as a sundry artist. But one thing, he says, has stayed the same: Ball is life. “I don’t think I’m going to make it to ‘The League.’ I’m an artist now, so I’m turning these pieces of forgotten equipment—and the dreams they signify—into beautiful sculptures.”
Conlon says his show is about the equipment used to play basketball, “…and by used I mean overused, worn out, ripped apart, broken, torn down, tethered, recycled, and repurposed. I’m talking about rims that have been beaten up and dunked on, shot on 100,000 times.”
He likens the backboards on which he paints as if they were canvases, to people. “I feel they’re just like human beings. They are all the same, yet different. They all need love. They all need to be encouraged and lifted up and sometimes cleaned up a little bit, just to feel alive again.”
Basketball is a pastime of all Midwestern kids, or more so, part of our cultural baptism. For Nick, creating these pieces brings back memories, a sense of nostalgia, stories long forgotten. Viewing this work might come with a bit of sadness or regret for the dreams one had as a child and never realized, or the toll life takes on all that suffer it. It should also remind us, however, of happy and carefree times with friends when anything in the world felt possible, and the possibility of these well-worn and forgotten pieces of equipment becoming something new and beautiful again can attest to our abilities to discover new passions and make new dreams come true.
On the art of the game, Conlon says, “Basketball is sometimes called ‘poetry in motion’ because of how beautiful the sport is – the colors, the players, the movements, the arenas.” In this way, life too is a sort of poetry in motion. Really, this sport is inextricable from the idea of life itself – at least for a kid from the Midwest. As Conlon says, “Ball is life.”