Basketball courts

‘Art in the Paint’ breathes new life into decaying basketball courts with colorful designs – WABE

For many fans of the game, basketball is an art form. Proving their point, art and basketball joined forces on the court with Art in the Paint, an Atlanta-based nonprofit created by former basketball player and professional coach Arelious Cooper, Jr. aka “Co-op”. The organization aims to beautify and revitalize decaying basketball courts by hiring artists to paint the surface of the court with colorful designs. Arelious Cooper, Jr. joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to learn more about her group’s work on Atlanta’s underutilized courts.

Interview Highlights:

How a former player and coach decided to merge basketball with public art projects:

“I started the organization to counter some negative experiences I had at Stone Mountain,” Cooper said. “I am both black and Latino. I’m African American and Dominican, and just seeing Confederate soldiers being honored there didn’t bother me as much as others, but [I started] thinking about the negativity that’s involved in art and how I could counter that with something positive in my community, rather than being one of those people, who’s like, “I want to blow the mountain off” . As. I don’t blow up the mountain. I can do something positive instead in my own community and uplift people using art.

“I’m a terrible painter but a wonderful project manager,” Cooper attested. “I’m a fan of all the arts, and during my basketball years I became a bit of a collector, and I started to notice that nothing in the world…brings people together like sports and art. Just think of the number of people listening to music or going to a festival, a concert, a baseball game or a football game. I just saw the unifying powers of art, and I knew it would be a way to bring people together, to work on building community.

By finding the spaces that needed a little AITP love:

“We get a ton of emails. Sometimes politicians, rappers, just community members reach out to us. Also, I’m an Atlanta guy. I grew up here, and I grew up playing a lot of courts around town. It was one thing when I got home, I always wanted to do camps or give back to communities, and I kept noticing, ‘Man, these parks are really torn down.’ I have younger godchildren, and I couldn’t imagine bringing a five-year-old to court that has huge cracks, a pile of glass on it, questionable drug paraphernalia, possible gang activity. You know, all of these things were at the park, and I was like, ‘There’s everything here but basketball…’ so we were inspired to kind of change that.

“I think we are at number 24 so far. We just started a partnership with Savannah College of Art and Design, aka SCAD. They have a project called “Paint Our Parks”, and we’re doing some admin and just some programming for that as well. So I think we’re on 24 as of today – like, we’re literally setting the goals right now.

Coop’s favorite newly embellished and upcoming courts:

“We are also going to do Adair Park. Howell Park in the West End. Rose Circle Park in the West End, in the Lee and White Street development, is probably one of our favourites,” Cooper said.

He continued, “We created a park at East Point that meant a lot to us. It was at Brookdale Park. There was a young man named Tyrell Sims who was shot in a drive-by. He was just an innocent bystander, and we were already planning to paint the yard. But when he passed away we were so touched that we didn’t know whether to put “Rest In Power” or “Rest In Peace” on the field and now the field says “Power and Peace”, and it has its jersey number over there at East Point, which is a very tragic thing. And we’re really sad about that, but we were proud to be able to honor such a remarkable young man.

To learn more about current projects and accomplishments of Art in the Paint, visit www.artinthepaint.org.