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Games Over, Olympians Can Focus on Making Art

The London Games wrapped up last night with a glitzy spectacle that transformed the floor of Olympic stadium into a 60,000-sqaure-foot Damien Hirst spin art canvas. Sliced and obscured by a Union Jack overlay, it looked more like a giant Clyfford Still-flavored pizza (yum!). We were hoping that closing ceremony director Kim Gavin had doubled down on the Hirst commissions and would wrap up the party with a float featuring Michael Phelps astride a pickled shark. Alas, it was not to be, but any ceremony that involves Winston Churchill, Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen, Eric Idle, George Michael, a giant inflatable octopus-cum-DJ booth, and a Spice Girls salute (made all the more exciting by the fact that the reunited spice cadettes were balanced precariously atop fast-moving black cabs covered in LEDs) is OK with us.

Now that the Games are closed, the Olympians can focus on their own artistic pursuits. The world-class-athlete-to-artist transition is apparently more common than one might think, and museum support is guaranteed, thanks to the Art Of The Olympians in Fort Myers, Florida. The fledging museum landed on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, in an A-Hed that led with figure skater Peggy Fleming’s efforts to master painting. “I’m not so good at it, but I’m determined I’m going to do this,” she told writers Arian Campo-Flores and Jeanne Whalen of an ambitious landscape-in-progress. As for the museum, founded by the late Al Oerter and now led by Bob Beamon (both won Olympic gold medals in track and field events), it has built a collection of 300 artworks by about 70 Olympians, and is always on the look out for new acquisitions. “Right now, we’re not judging,” director of operations Sandy Talaga told the WSJ, though “it does have to be considered somewhat good art.”

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