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Art of the slam dunk: Miami Heat-themed works go on display

Collage artist Erika King celebrates LeBron, Wade and other Heat stars at Miami Beach gallery.

By Phillip Valys, SouthFlorida.com

May 12, 2013

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This month couldn't be better-timed for collage artist Erika King. While the Miami Heat boys are busy sharp-shooting in the NBA playoffs, her commemorative photo-collages of LeBron, Wade, Bosh and other ballers are on display at Miami Beach's Williams McCall Gallery.

Plus, it's her birth-month (her birthday was May 8).

"It's my sweet birthday present," says the Coconut Grove artist with a laugh, referring to her official NBA-sanctioned collage works on display alongside Heat-themed art from former Boston Globe editorial cartoonist Larry Johnson.

The gallery's show is also well-timed: South Florida’s NBA fervor is ramping up as the Heat continue their run in the second-round Playoffs.

Johnson captures Wade, LeBron and others in heroic game poses. Yes, he’s a Boston Celtics fan, but he says: “I tend to celebrate perfection in what athletes do, and LeBron and Wade are just worth painting ... Besides, the Celtics have already gotten enough championships.”

Meanwhile, King is an official NBA-licensed artist who collages the game-changing moments in the 25-year-old franchise’s history, from Wade's MVP-crowning in 2006 to their championship victory in 2012. Below, King answers a few questions about her works.

Q: How did you become an official NBA-licensed artist?

A: I did a Miami Heat charity collage back in 1998 for the Miami Heat Family Festival and gave it to [then-coach] Pat Riley. I would also donate collages to Zo's Summer Groove until the Heat finally took notice. Then they starting giving me commissions. I was so flabbergasted that Pat even took notice of my collages. He's had me do other pieces along the way, and when he thanks me, I'm like, "I'm extremely proud and honored, are you kidding?"

Q: LeBron just collected his fourth MVP award. Will the Miami Heat commission you to make a collage on this?

A: I'm still finishing up a LeBron MVP collage from last year, so I hope so! (She laughs.) That will definitely be in the show. I love to focus my artworks on individuals, even though I have team collages of Heat players from the games they've won.

Q: So you're no doubt a fan. How do you think the Heat will fair in the playoffs?

A: They're on a major roll with the big winning streaks. The [Chicago] Bulls are going to give them a tough run. But I consider them my boys. I think the biggest asset that they have going is they truly enjoy what they do and they work so well together. I made the "All In" black trophy the centerpiece of my 2012 Championship collage because [Erik] Spoelstra would make them touch it before each game to symbolize camaraderie.

Q: Your exhibiting partner in the show, Larry Johnson, was an editorial cartoonist for The Boston Globe and is a Celtics fan. Do you now hate him?

No, of course not! (She laughs.) It's all friendly competition. The Celtics are great; they've been our arch-rivals for so long. I've never met Larry. But Boston is a great team, no complaints. I'm just happy to have my work shown during the playoffs.

If you go

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, May 11 (opening reception); 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; by appointment Sunday-Monday; through May 25

Where: Williams McCall Gallery, 110 Washington Ave., CU-3, Miami Beach

Cost: Free

Contact: 786-359-4321, WilliamsMcCallGallery.com