Trenton Doyle Hancock Transforms CAMH Gallery into Playable Basketball Court

by Jessica Fuentes March 17, 2023

Tomorrow, March 18, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) and adidas Basketball will debut CAMH COURT, which the institution says is the first-ever playable basketball court installed in an art museum. 

A photograph of Trenton Doyle Hancock standing next to a large cut-out figure of a super hero as part of an installation he created at MASS MoCA.

Installation view, “Trenton Doyle Hancock, Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass,” MASS MoCA, North Adams, March 9–November 3, 2019. Photo by Tony Luong. Image courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York.

In celebration of the NCAA Men’s Final Four®, which will be hosted in Houston in early April, CAMH commissioned Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock to design an installation that transforms the museum’s upstairs Brown Foundation Gallery into a regulation size court featuring the artist’s fantastical characters and designs on the court floor and the backboards. Adding to the whimsy of the design is that the typically rectangular court has been skewed into a parallelogram. 

A painting by Trenton Doyle Hancock of a skewed basketball court floor featuring two large black and white striped figures.

Trenton Doyle Hancock, “Becoming the Toymaker: Phase 14 of 41, or Common Phenomenon or Simply Commonenon,” 2017, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 16 x 16 x 1 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.

CAMH COURT expands on the organization’s relationship with Mr. Hancock, and on its affiliations with basketball. In 2001, CAMH presented Hancock’s first solo museum exhibition, Trenton Doyle Hancock: The Life and Death of #1. In the years since then, the museum featured Hancock’s work in the group show Splat, Boom Pow! The Influence of Comics in Contemporary Art (2003) and held a retrospective of his work titled Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing (2014). And just last year, the museum, in collaboration with the Houston Rockets, commissioned Houston artists to create commemorative posters commemorating iconic Rockets players.

The project also builds on the history of artist-designed sports environments. In 1977, painter and sculptor Robert Indiana, perhaps best known for his “LOVE” sculpture, painted the Milwaukee Bucks’ basketball court floor. In 2000, Steven Badgett and Matt Lynch, as the collaborative duo Simparch, constructed a full-scale skatebowl shaped like a kidney swimming pool that was accessible to skateboarders during gallery hours. More recently, Project Backboard, a nonprofit organization established in 2015, has worked with artists to beautify and revitalize basketball courts across the United States. 

In a press release announcing the installation, CAMH Executive Director Hesse McGraw stated, “We’re always aiming to have new and unexpected experiences at CAMH. Through one of the first playable basketball courts in an arts institution, we can continue to present varied experiences for anyone who walks through the door.”

A painting by Trenton Doyle Hancock of a backboard featuring a black and white striped figure.

Trenton Doyle Hancock’s design for CAMH COURT’s backboard. Image courtesy of CAMH.

CAMH COURT will be open to all ages, though players must sign a waiver to play and wear rubber-soled shoes when on the court. Slipover shoe covers will be provided to visitors who are not wearing rubber-soled shoes. Basketballs can be checked out from the front desk with any form of ID. Players under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present. 

CAMH plans to work with community partners to activate the court with programming and events throughout the duration of the exhibition. A final event, the CAMH Ball, will take place on Saturday, April 29, and will be a sneakers-only iteration of the organization’s annual gala and auction. 

CAMH COURT will be on view from March 18 through April 27, 2023.

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1 comment

Chavez March 19, 2023 - 10:52

Such an amazing idea! Sometimes contemporary art can get stuck in theoretical silos and feel exclusive to the general visitor. Definitely appreciate how CAMH keeps coming up with innovative ways to merge basketball with the art world.


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