The attached photo is a painting of Jackie Robinson in 1945, which was the only year he played in the Negro Leagues. I hope this photo made it to the TZ. Branch Rickey signed him for the Brooklyn Dodgers the next year. This painting is the final piece for the Negro Leagues baseball wall I have done in my LR during the pandemic.
The artist who captured Jackie so well is Phil Dewey. Check out his work at www.phildewey.com, and he is available for commissions, which this one is. Phil’s fine work joins on my wall pieces by Graig Kreindler, Dick Perez, Kadir Nelson, Arthur Miller, Anika Orrock, Ron Stark, Jeff Suntala, Bill Purdom, and Robert Hurst (who we in Austin know is A Damn Fine Artist). All of these talented artists have websites; check them out, and buy their work! I am proud to have Phil’s work and equally proud to have the works of the others. I have a Who’s Who of baseball artists on my wall.
This project was inspired by two trips to the Negro Leagues Museum in KC in December 2019 and in February 2020 with my Kansas friends, Bill and Janet Muggy. This year (2020) is the Centennial Year for the Negro Leagues, but the pandemic has all but ruined the year-long celebration plans.
When the last two paintings are framed and up, I will have twenty-one images on my wall: five originals (Kreindler, Dewey, Suntala, and two by Hurst), fifteen prints (mostly giclee prints), and a vintage photograph of the YMCA in KC where the Negro National League began in February 1920. The paintings depict Rube Foster as a player and as a Negro National League-founding businessman, Willie Foster (Rube’s half-brother), Martin Dihigo (a Cuban), Oscar Charleston (thought by many to be the Negro Leagues’ greatest player), Manager Buck O’Neil and other staff and players in the KC Monarchs’ dugout, Josh Gibson, Willie Wells (from Austin!), Hilton Smith, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil (breathtaking headshot study by Graig Kreindler), Bullet Joe Rogan, Smokey Joe Williams, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard (from a distance in a larger painting of Gibson in the on-deck circle waiting to hit against Paige), and Jackie Robinson (including an image of Pee Wee Reese with his arm around Robinson, which was a significant but perhaps apocryphal story of acceptance). All of these Negro Leagues players, except Buck O’Neil (which is a shameful travesty), belatedly were enshrined in the MLB Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
I am owner, curator, and docent for The Wall, and I had fun and learned many interesting facts doing this. I hope to show The Wall to others in person someday.