MIAMI — Heat forward and six-time All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire wears a lot of hats—and not only his collection of wide-brimmed ones. STAT, as he calls himself for “Standing Tall and Talented,” is an actor (Trainwreck), movie producer (Beyond the Lights), author of a children’s book series with Scholastic and NBA fashion pioneer who was one of the first players to have a personal stylist, Rachel Johnson, about 10 years ago.
Stoudemire has also been an art collector since his Suns days, and for the first time this week in Miami, the 13-year NBA veteran got involved with Art Basel, the world’s biggest festival for modern and contemporary art. But Stoudemire didn’t just attend an art show; he was the featured attraction at four different events.
The NBPA went behind the scenes with Stoudemire during his first Art Basel experience. Below are photos (from his personal photographer, Jerritt Clark) throughout his two-day adventure, along with his thoughts from a panel discussion at the W South Beach hotel where he discussed the unique convergence of his passion for art, fashion and culture in his life.
On getting into art: “I was drafted at 18 and now I’ve been in the NBA for 13 years, so with that being said, it gave me the platform to travel the world and really experience different cultures. Once I was able to experience the cultures and learn about the history and develop that type of historian mindset, then I eventually became more aware of the art and the culture within that particular country. My mind just started to expand more and started to grow more, and as the years went on I became an art collector.”
On choosing art to invest in: “I have a pretty strong advisory group [including personal art advisor to NBA players Gardy St. Fleur] that I chat with kind of on a normal basis just to be fully equipped and knowledgeable on the market. But emerging artists are risky, so you want to make sure that you’re surrounded by good people who know the most about art, and they will lead you in the right direction as far as being a serious collector.”
On his close connections in the art world: “What I tend to do is become friends with the actual artist. We sit and have a conversation about their passion—what got them involved in art, what are their future plans and goals, ideas on their next pieces they’re going to paint. And once you become friends, then we can go from there.
“Retna is a really close friend of mine who has amazing pieces. I think he’s one of those artists that, if not already, has arrived. There’s a guy out of New York named Patrick Pettersson who painted this one painting for me that I fell in love with. There’s a guy JoJo. He’s a Jewish painter out of New York who painted this painting of Moses for me. There are so many great artists. And I feel like the art that I personally feel that I gravitate to, I know I can put it around my home and my family can enjoy it for years to come.”
On how he commissions his own pieces with artists: “It’s a simple conversation. It’s a creative conversation. We just chat about my passion and things that I love, and then he uses his intelligent mind. And we discuss the actual painting and then he creates that painting for me. [The paintings are] one of ones, which are great.”
On his passion for art and fashion: “I think it’s very similar. Fashion is a way that you can express your creativity through the fabric of clothing. Art is very similar to that. You can express your passion through the actual painting. It’s a creative world. Both of them allow you to be yourself and to express yourself in a way that you don’t really have to speak, which is pretty cool.
“I’ve been in the fashion world for quite some time. I work with designers. I’ve been to most of the fashion shows, whether they’re in New York City or Paris or Milan. I’ve collaborated with different designers as well, so fashion and art are definitely one of the same.”
On how art helps to escape from the NBA grind: “It’s very therapeutic. I was out in New York in Brooklyn with an artist friend. We helped him actually finish off his painting, and as we were painting we were just really enjoying life and just forgot about sports and the whole world that we live in. And the next thing you know, it’s an hour, two hours later, we were still enjoying ourselves. So you definitely can get submerged into the passion of art.”
On art becoming a bigger conversation starter among players: “I’ve noticed that on several different occasions. Guys are more focusing on fashion and becoming more fashion forward—and now also in art. There are some athletes, but a lot of entertainers and singers who are gravitating to the art world, and it’s something that you have to have the love for it, it has to be something that’s a part of you in order to be a part of the art world. So I’m sure after more athletes start watching my moves and start seeing what I’m doing, they’re going to probably catch on here soon.”
On how players can further expand their horizons: “It’s education; it’s also exposure. A lot of us athletes are so submerged in training and becoming the best that we can possibly be, so it’s tunnel vision or not realizing that you can also enjoy the finer things in life. I’ve been playing for 13 years—I’ve been truly blessed to even play that long—but the average career expectancy for an NBA player is only four years.
“So while you’re still playing at a high level, you want to enjoy the finer things in life, and I’ve been able to accomplish that throughout my 13 years. And hopefully the rest of the guys can catch on here soon and educate themselves on art and become collectors.”
On the power of art bringing people together: “I’ve seen and heard so many slogans about art—that art is love. And truly it is. There’s no other agenda with art besides really loving to do it and loving what art gives you. It’s truly an amazing thing that anyone can become a collector or become an artist and truly love doing it, and everyone around you can fall in love with your painting. So as we see these slogans around that art is love, I truly believe that.”
On the future of art in the NBA: “For sure. Look at what happened in the fashion world. There weren’t too many athletes that were really fashion forward and focused on fashion—even now with art. You don’t see too many athletes that are actually getting into art or actually having that type of success with it. So I’m sure art is another genre that can be brought to a conglomerate like the NBA. The NBA game is a global game—it truly is—and art is a global conglomerate as well, so I’m sure that can be something that can be talked about for sure.”