AOTO Timeline


ART OF THE OLYMPIANS (AOTO) is an educational program of the Al Oerter Foundation (AOF) which is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. The program, run by Olympian and Paralympian artists, teaches Olympic ideals and values through exhibitions, educational programs and cultural events.


Al Oerter, four time consecutive Olympic Gold Medalist and artist, founded AOTO in 2006. AOTO had their first exhibition in March of 2006 in Al Oerter’s home town of Fort Myers, Florida.


The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was an athlete, artist and educator (2,3).  From the 1912 Stockholm Olympics through to the 1948 London Olympics [1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936 and 1948] there were cultural competitions in architecture, painting, sculpture, literature, and music (4,5,6,7,8).  In 1912, under the pseudonyms Georges Hohrod and M. Eschbach, Pierre de Coubertin competed in the poetry competition with his poem Ode au Sport for which he was awarded the gold medal (9,10).


The founder of Art of the Olympians, Al Oerter was also an athlete, artist and educator. The mission of the AOTO program is to show the connection between sport and the arts and teach Olympic values through educational programs, exhibitions and cultural events. AOTO looks to Olympic and Paralympic sports, sporting events, athletes and specific athletic accomplishments for subject matter for artistic expression and educational investigation.

AL OERTER: The athlete and the artist

Al Oerter’s Olympic accomplishments as an athlete winning four consecutive gold medals in the discus from 1956 to 1968 are well documented.  But his artistic journey that began 12 years after winning his last Olympic gold medal is not as well known.In 1980 Oerter became the first Olympic Gold Medalist to be asked by Anheuser Busch, a major supporter of the 1984 Olympics Games, to create an original work of art for a unique fundraising effort. The artwork was then reproduced and sold in limited editions prints and posters with profits going to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Before he started creating his first painting Al said “I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do. I am not an artist” (11,58). Little did he know, or anyone else at the time, but the experience was to forever change his life. In the last five years of his life, from 2001 to 2006, he was incredibly prolific creating over 300 paintings.  He used a variety of styles but was best known for his works in which he threw a discus onto a canvas of freshly poured multicolored wet paint.



In 2005 Al was asked to exhibit his artwork in his home town of Fort Myers, Florida but instead of doing a solo show he invited eleven other Olympian artists to join him in an exhibition entitled “Art of The Olympians.”




In the spring of 2006, the Art of the Olympians had their first official exhibition in Fort Myers at the Alliance for the Arts (57). On October 30th the Art of the Olympians Foundation Inc. became an official Florida corporation.  In the fall of 2006, Art of The Olympians had three exhibitions in New York City. The first was at the New York Athletic Club, the second at the United Nations and the third was at the National Arts Club (56).  In addition to their shows AOTO had their work on display on the giant Panasonic Astro-Vision screen in Times Square for the entire month of November (55). Art of the Olympians were also featured on the CBS Morning Show to discuss their New York tour.




In the summer of 2007, Art of the Olympians were given the rights to use the word Olympian by the United States Olympic Committee – an act protected by Congress. On August 1st, 2007 Art of the Olympians was awarded a 501 (c) (3) status. On October 1st, 2007 Al Oerter died from heart failure (12,13,14,15,16). He was 71. His artistic pursuits including founding Art of The Olympians was noted in numerous obituaries in addition to his Olympic accomplishments on the field.


In the autumn of 2007 British Olympic javelin thrower, AOTO artist and founding member Roald Bradstock (aka “The Olympic Picasso”) began a new AOTO pilot sport art educational program in the UK and was appointed a 2012 Olympian Ambassador for the Youth Sports Trust’s (YST) Sports College Legacy Program.  In his role as ambassador for YST and AOTO representative Bradstock reached teachers and students from over 100 Sports Colleges around the United Kingdom between 2007 and 2012. The program was then expanded to include music and science.  Bradstock taught at both able bodied and disabled Sports Colleges and finished his term for the Youth Sport Trust and the British government with a virtual workshop in May of 2012.




On March 7th Roald Bradstock, representing the AOTO, served on the United States Sports Academy (USSA) and American Sport Museum and Archives (ASAMA) judging committee for the 2008 United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Art Competition.


In the spring AOTO held an exhibition at the Rauschenberg Gallery, Edison College in Fort Myers, FL (20).


In the summer of 2008 Art of the Olympians had anInternational Exhibition at the Beijing Olympic Games at the Jun Wang Fu Palace in Beijing (19,51).




On December 1st 2009 winter Olympian and IOC member HSH Prince Albert of Monaco led the delegation of the Florida House on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in support of Art of the Olympians effort for a museum, gallery and learning center in Fort Myers, Florida (21, 22, 23, 24, and 25).




On January 29th, 2010 the Art of the Olympians Museum and the Al Oerter Center for Excellence opened its doors in downtown Fort Myers, Florida (26,27,28,29,30,31).


A few weeks later in February 2010 Art of the Olympians held an exhibition at the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.


In October 2010 Art of the Olympians secured the rights to display the USA Olympic Rings at the Art of the Olympians Museum and Al Oerter Center for Excellence.Olympic figure skaters Todd Eldredge and Peggy Fleming and three-time Olympian in kayaking and 1988 Gold medalistUnited States Olympic Committee (USOC) COO Norman Bellingham attended the ceremony in Fort Myers at the AOTO museum.  They unveiled the USA Olympic 5 ring logo on the building and raised the USOC Olympic flag outside the building.


On October 29th 2010 the Art of the Olympians Documentary had its World wide premiere at the Harborside Event center in Fort Myers (32,33,53). The 30 minute film was hosted by AOTO artist and 1968 Figure Skating Gold medalists Peggy Fleming.The documentary was produced by Main Sail Video productions and produced by Emmy Award winning videographer Ilene Safron.




In March, 2011 the AOTO documentary aired on a PBS station in New York City.


Also in March 2011 HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco came to Fort Myers to show his support for Art of the Olympians and join in the events celebrating its one year anniversary of the AOTO Museum (34,37,38). As part of the activities some Olympians went to give talks at local schools (35,36) and visited a local children’s hospital (54).


In the summer of 2011 AOTO graphic artist and 1968 Olympic long jump gold medalist Bob Beamon became the CEO of the Art of the Olympians Museumand Gallery ( 39,40,41,42 ) .


On October 29th, 2011 the Art of the Olympians documentary was shown at the 29th International Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs (FICTS) Festival in Milano, Italy under the title “Sport becomes an Artwork”.




In February AOTO co-hosted the 2012 United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Art Competition with the United States Sports Academy (USSA) and American Sport Museum and Archives (ASAMA).
In the spring of 2012 AOTO formed a partnership with USA Gymnastics to help promote art, sport and education to Children (44).


In May Roald Bradstock gave a virtual Sport Art workshop from Atlanta, in the US, at the Oakbank School in Keighley in the UK (17,18).


During the 2012 London summer Olympics AOTO held two international exhibitions in the United Kingdom. The first was held at the University of London and the second was held in Torbay on the south coast of England (43,45, 52). At the University of College of London Exhibition on July 28th, 2012 a dozen Olympians (including Carl Lewis, Bob Beamon and Dick Fosbury), peace leaders, artists and musicians cametogether at Olympic Center to celebrate the Olympic spirit of peace and universal friendship at a special event entitled “A Moment’s Peace.” This event was hosted by Art of the Olympians (46).


As part of the ceremonies a video featuring Sri Chinmoy with Olympic friends Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Al Oerter, Amil Zatopek, Bob Beamon, and Tegla Loroupe was shown.  Desmond Tutu also sent a personal address via video to commemorate the event. Baroness Shreela Flather, a long-time friend of Sri Chinmoy, along with Carl Lewis unveiled a commerative statue of Sri Chinmoy while a group of International singers performed “A Moment’s Peace,” a song previously written by Sri Chinmoy.  As part of the event the daughters of Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jesse Owens and Muhammad Ali spoke.  In addition to Reverend Mpho A Tutu, Bernice A. King, Marlene Owens Rankin and Khaliah Ali speaking Sibongile Mkhabela, the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, also spoke on behalf of Nelson Mandela.  Afterwards the audience was invited inside for a reception and opening of the World Harmony Art Exhibition of Sri Chinmoy’s art, hosted by the Art of the Olympians, which featured over 40 pieces of art by over 20 Olympians at two venues.


In July, Victoria Herrera from the Academy of Art & Design in San Francisco created a new (and the current) Art of the Olympians logo.


On December 3rd, Art of the Olympians held a celebrity golf tournament in Bonita Springs to highlight and celebrate the reintroduction of golf back into the Olympics in 2016 (47,48,49).




On July 17th, after 3 and a half years, the Art of the Olympians museum and the Al Oerter Center for Excellence closed its doors.  The AOTO exhibitions, programs and events at the museum, gallery, Center and surrounding area were a huge success and where well attended and followed by the media extensively.  But the time had come to reorganize and restructure the foundation and begin focusing on National and International Exhibitions and educational programs so that AOTO could reach a much larger global audience (50).




On September 11th, 2014 the Art of the Olympians (AOTO) Foundation changed its name to The Al Oerter Foundation (AOF) and Cathy Oerter became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Art of the Olympians now operates as a program of the Al Oerter Foundation.




In December, Prince Albert II of Monaco joined the board of Trustees of the Al Oerter Foundation and Roald Bradstock was appointed Executive Director.


  33. documentary
  39.{d1bf25c16fefffd54b4e29f59ba98e6a2d4e64dc5e72dd0ff78858fe8e9a0b71}20Beamon{d1bf25c16fefffd54b4e29f59ba98e6a2d4e64dc5e72dd0ff78858fe8e9a0b71}20CEO{d1bf25c16fefffd54b4e29f59ba98e6a2d4e64dc5e72dd0ff78858fe8e9a0b71}208{d1bf25c16fefffd54b4e29f59ba98e6a2d4e64dc5e72dd0ff78858fe8e9a0b71}2023{d1bf25c16fefffd54b4e29f59ba98e6a2d4e64dc5e72dd0ff78858fe8e9a0b71}2011.pdf Bob Beamon /CEO
  47.– golf tournament / Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
  51. – video AOTO Beijing 2008 Olympics.
  52. – video AOTO London 2012 Olympics.
  53. – video AOTO Documentary.
  54. – video AOTO Childrens Hospital.
  55. – video AOTO NYC Panasonic Screen loop.
  56. – video AOTO NYC tour.
  57. –video AOTO First Exhibition
  58. – video AOTO’s Al Oerter’s first painting.