Blood, Sweat, and Canvas

Back in the day, the nicest thing about being an Olympic athlete was the art. If you were good, people would paint you, sculpt you, and write songs about you. Acanthus of Sparta was celebrated by Thucydides, and whole mythologies grew up around Milo of Croton — according to legend, he would begin carrying a newborn calf on his back immediately following each Olympics, and so when it came time to compete, he was hauling a 4-year-old cow. He’d walk the thing into the stadium, kill it, and eat it, freaking his competitors right the hell out. So impressive was Milo that Pierre Puget was sculpting the guy right up through the 17th Century, over 2,000 years after his death. Ian Thorpe seems unlikely to have similar staying power.

So it is in the very noblest of Olympic traditions to visit the Norton Museum of Art (1451 Olive Ave., West Palm Beach) for its sports-centric exhibition “Let The Games Begin: The Art of Competition and Just Plain Fun.” Not all the work on display is Olympic in origin — in addition to Olympians, the exhibition also celebrates “Ball Games,” “Games of Skill & Chance,” and “Just Plain Fun.” But in a display spanning millennia and hemispheres, you can bet that whatever you see will cast our modern games in a whole new light. Visit for more info.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Aug. 20. Continues through Oct. 31, 2008

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Brandon K. Thorp