In more ways than one, Desmond Mason is opening the next chapter of his burgeoning career as an artist.
On Friday, his new exhibition “Generation Next: Chapter Two” will debut at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum. The opening reception for the exhibit is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the museum's Tulsa World Gallery.
“I was taught as a realist, and I pretty much got to the point where I was bored of that. ... So I went into abstract expressionism and that has evolved over time also,” Mason said in a phone interview Tuesday from London, where he was vacationing with his wife and children.
“My art has really in the last two and a half years taken off. It's definitely heading in the right direction.”
For many Oklahomans, Mason is probably still best known as a basketball star. He played at Oklahoma State University from 1996-2000, appearing in three NCAA tournaments.
In 2000, the Seattle SuperSonics selected him in the first round of the NBA draft. His 10-year NBA career also included stints playing with the New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets and the Oklahoma City Thunder as well as for the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings.
A studio art major at OSU, Mason retired in 2009 from basketball and settled in Oklahoma City to focus on creating art and raising his two children with wife, Andrea, a former Cowgirl soccer player.
“Generation Next: Chapter Two” features 15 of the OSU graduate's paintings. Mason, 34, painted most of them in the past eight to 12 months, so they represent the most recent phase in his growth as an artist. While still abstract, they are more figurative than some of his past works.
“In 2005, '06 and '07, I was doing shows that were absolutely color representation, motion art, kind of Pollock-, Rothko-, Kandinsky-style work. It was all feeling, emotion, color on canvas and that was it. It was kind of the phase I was in,” said Mason, who was enjoying the energy but not necessarily the traffic while visiting London during the Olympics.
“With this exhibit, I went in and painted what I felt — which is the way I paint anyway. ... I paint by emotion and emotions change on a minute-to-minute basis.”
For the Waxahachie, Texas, native, “Chapter Two” marks his second solo exhibit this summer at a high-profile venue in his adopted hometown. “Generation Next: Chapter One” showed in the East Gallery at the state Capitol from April 30 to July 1.
“It's good for me to be able to show in two places like this and have the support from local people here in Oklahoma. It's very humbling to be able to do that.”