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'Stealing Base' Art Exhibition Brings Together Louisville Slugger Museum, 21C

Louisville has many faces, but when driving down Main Street it’s obvious that two of those are “baseball town” and “arts town."

(The 10-story tall baseball bat and gigantic statue of David may be a tip-off.)

Now, those two faces are coming together for the collection Stealing Base: Cuba at Bat.

The exhibition, presented by the Louisville Slugger Museum and 21C Museum Hotel, speaks to the future of unexpected artistic collaboration in the city.

Stealing Base opened Saturday at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville in Gallery 3. Largely drawn from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection, the exhibition features work by 15 Cuban artists living both on the island and in the U.S. Stealing Base originated at The 8th Floor gallery in New York City, and features an essay by Havana-based curator Orlando Hernández.

A love for baseball connects Cubans across race, religion, politics and geography and provides meaningful and accessible imagery for Cuban artists. Responding not only to the sport as national pastime, their work further conveys larger complexities within Cuban society, culminating in this collection which is especially timely given the current talks on restoring diplomatic relations between the country and the U.S.

In Louisville, this is the first collaboration between the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and 21C, which are located only a block apart. It's a move Alice Gray Stites, the museum’s director and vice president, said is indicative of changing attitudes towards art in the city.

“This kind of collaboration demonstrates the broadening enthusiasm for contemporary art in this community and the expansion of the audience for it,” Stites said. “21C is really committed to the idea that art should be integrated into everyday life and accessible for everyone.

“You know, I think Louisville is a great sports town, and Louisville is also a great arts town, and there is no reason that people can’t enjoy both at the same time.”

The free exhibit will run through mid-spring.