In an event that was most definitely uniquely Cincinnati, the illustration by CF Payne entitled Redsland Forever was unveiled at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) last Thursday evening. Any time there are cocktails, mascots, and art involved you know you’d be hard pressed to find it anywhere else besides Cincinnati, and you know someone from the UrbanCincy team would have to go see what it was all about. The event was extraordinarily well attended even in the midst of one of the best autumns of football our fair town has ever seen.
When one walks into an event that is focused on things happening in our city and one of the first people you see is Jim Tarbell, one knows that this is the place the be that evening. There was a well stocked bar and patrons mingling in under the gigantic blue Chihuly prior to the formal presentation of the evening. Passing through the entrance and towards The Great Hall, which was where the main event was going to happen, it was easy to see the Reds influences. Look, Chris Sabo. Then Mr. Redlegs. Then Rosie. As folks gathered into The Great Hall for the presentation it was standing room only and it was tightly packed, more so than when The Reds Community Fund & CAM joined up for their first venture which showcased the Andy Warhol print of Pete Rose.
The original illustration by CF Payne, which was purchased by Reds owner Bob Castellini, was stage left and covered by a black cloth as we heard all about the efforts of the Reds Community Fund as well as the Art Museum. The two folks that stole the show though were former Red Chris Sabo and the artist himself, CF Payne.
In the everyman style that made him popular in his heyday, Sabo got up for a few minutes and chatted up the room, even joking that he was not expecting to speak this evening. The most recent Red elected to the team’s Hall of Fame did point out one thing that has caused some discussion about the illustration, which is that among the fourteen Reds featured, number fourteen, Pete Rose, is conspicuously absent which brought some applause from the room. Promising to be more prepared at his induction, Sabo quickly yielded to the artist himself.
The unveiling was anti-climactic considering the print had been published in the paper and on the web leading but to the evening, but it was great to hear from local and relatively unknown treasure, CF Payne. whose work has been featured on magazine covers ranging from Mad Magazine to Time and many others in between. As he walked us through his process from idea to finished product one thing became incredibly evident: CF Payne is a huge baseball fan. He talked about the fact that Davey Concepcion belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He talked about listening to Reds games growing up. He talked about why Pete Rose was not included in the illustration. (It had a bit to do with Pete being the focus of the Warhol exhibit and not any other factors) But the most fascinating part was to hear how he balanced art (“I need Big Klu in the corner as my anchor”) with passion (“I took my favorite Red, Vada Pinson, out so that I could make room for Barry Larkin.”)
You can, and should, check out the print itself either at the Art Museum (which of course features free admission) as part of a CF Payne exhibit that runs through January 10, 2010. In the spring, the print moves over to the Reds Hall Fame & Museum alongside an exhibit that will be paying tribute to the 1990 World Series Championship team.