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The Greatest Combination, Boxing and Art

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If you have made your way into the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym, in DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY, the most well-known boxing gym on the planet, your eyes have moved left, right, center, and then likely have fixated on this work of art.

“The Greatest,” in blue, done with massive skill and humility by artisan Grace Baley. I took notice when I saw Brooklyn fighter Heather Hardy giving Grace a shoutout. So I checked out her Instagram, and saw some impressive works. It got me curious: Did she only do boxing stuff…and how does a Baley composition come together?  The artist was kind enough to interact with NYFights, and tell us more about her methods.

“As a life long New Yorker, I have often marveled at the magnificent works of art underground in our subway stations,” Baley told me. “I was inspired to start playing around with glass and eventually learned to cut down large sheets into smaller pieces and shapes. Throughout the 22 years that I’ve been working in this medium, I’ve progressed from creating small decorative pieces, to fabricating portraits and large installations.”

OK, so no, it’s not just boxing-centered works. Check this out…Notorious B.I.G, by Baley…

Baley completed this hand cut glass mosaic rendering in the summer of 2019.

” I work with architects and interior designers to customize artworks to fit their vision, as well as individual collectors,” she said. “I have been boxing for almost as long, so it seemed natural to want to create a portrait of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Once I choose and interpret the image for a piece, I can begin the process of collecting sheets of stained glass from around the globe. I usually have specific colors and textures in mind.  I score and nibble each individual piece of glass down until I reach the desired shape and size and then fit all the pieces together to form the design.”

Is it like a jigsaw puzzle? Does she start with an edge?

“I always start with the eyes. Once I get that part of the face right, the portrait unfolds. There are no short cuts in mosaic art. It’s a long process that requires a ton of patience, but I find it extremely therapeutic.”

Grace Baley, artist, life-long New Yorker, Brooklynite.

 “Other than ‘Ali’,  my boxing related works are limited to ‘Vintage Boxing Gloves’ and a small piece entitled ‘The Jab.’ I love creating custom work,” she shared. “People can email me at gracebaleymosaicart@gmail with their ideas and project needs. You can also view more samples of my work, as well as my process, on Instagram @gracebaley.

About Michael Woods

Michael Woods

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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