13 April 2016

The Georgia Peach

The new baseball season has arrived and with it a reminder that it was on 15 April 1947 that the death knell of segregation in the major leagues sounded when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  To mark this milestone, PBS has just aired an excellent documentary on Robinson's life and legacy by Ken Burns.  I urge you to seek it out.

How does this connect with my art?

Decades before Robinson's debut, a 19-year-old from Narrows, Georgia made his first appearance in the Detroit Tigers' lineup.  Tyrus Raymond Cobb stayed with the team another twenty-one years, establishing himself in the pantheon of the game's greatest players (He was in the inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.)  

But there was a malevolent side to the man known as the "Georgia Peach":  he was irascible, mean, violent and, certainly during his playing days, an unreconstructed racist (though, to be fair, there is evidence that after he left the game he mellowed in his views.)

When I decided to make Cobb a subject, it was not with the idea of idolizing him as a player but to show him for what he was as a man during that time and to make a statement against institutionalized segregation in the big leagues.

To harness my fury at both, I drew Cobb in a way that I thought would make him the angriest:  I depicted him as black.  

Georgia Peach
Graphite on paper

As artists, we have a goal -- to connect with viewers and communicate with them.  That communication can take many forms, from the innocuous to the profound.  In my case, it sometimes involves social commentary.  I have other pieces in the same vein that I will share in future posts.

Art thieves got away with a trove of Warhol prints from a Missouri museum last week. Now, the authorities are offering a hefty reward to try to get them back.

Readers love my brother's debut thriller.

"I found myself not being able to put the book down...it just got better and better." (5 stars) LS, Arizona

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