Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball Now Open at the Tampa Bay History Center

Black History Month at the Tampa Bay History Center kicks off on February 1st with the opening of Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball.

Shades of Greatness is the first-ever collaborative professional art exhibition inspired by Negro leagues baseball. Raymond Doswell, Vice President of Curatorial Services for the Negro League Baseball Museum (NLBM), wanted to offer a new interpretation of the story of the Negro leagues, one that differed from the painted portraiture that dominated Negro leagues art. The NLBM brought together 27 local (Kansas City) and national artists to develop a new understanding of this fascinating subject.

The exhibit pieces are in mixed media, from cubist paintings of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and James "Cool Papa" Bell to bronze sculptures of batters' hands, among them Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. Some works focus on individuals, like Jackie Robinson or Effa Manley, the owner of the Newark Eagles. Others are symbolic, with generic figures representing the many Negro leaguers and their experiences. While other pieces showcase known figures in the same piece, purposefully not elevating any one player's status over another's. George Morris illustrates this in the painting "No Pepper Ball" which utilizes a "double exposure effect" which renders vague who is overlapping whom. All of the artwork sheds light upon an oft-overlooked part of baseball history.

The Shades of Greatness exhibit is included in regular admission to the History Center. Dr. Dosewell will visit the History Center on February 20th for a lecuture on the exhibit and how it reflects the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. For more information, visit our website.

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