Jeremy Raymer painting a mural honoring baseball star Josh Gibson
Artist Jeremy Raymer steps up on the chalkboard for his next mural, a tribute to the star of the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball Hall by famer Josh Gibson.
The thug’s portrait is due to be completed by next month and is on the side of a homestead building owned by Voodoo Brewing Co. In addition to being Raymer’s largest work to date, the 2,000-square-foot painting will also feature a contour cut of wood that extends across the roofline for a 3-D effect.
Gibson, catcher of the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords for 15 years between 1930 and 1946, scored nearly 800 home runs in his career. He died on January 20, 1947, just months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues. People still leave baseball at Gibson’s grave in Allegheny Cemetery.
Voodoo is paying for the mural, and Raymer’s concept has been approved by the Josh Gibson Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based organization that offers academic, athletic, and social programs for young people.
Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the Negro leagues, but the pandemic has canceled or postponed many milestone-related events. Sean Gibson, Josh Gibson’s great-grandson and executive director of the foundation, says the celebrations will be in 2021, including the Josh Gibson Youth Baseball Classic this summer. Youth baseball teams from across the country will represent historic Negro League teams for a weekend of competition and fun.
There is also a petition to change the name of the MLB Most Valuable Player Award to the Josh Gibson Memorial Baseball Award.
Voodoo co-owner Jake Voelker says he is planning events around the creation and unveiling of the mural to coincide with the launch of the brewery’s full menu. Keep an eye on Voodoo’s Facebook page for updates.
Raymer’s had its eye on the Homestead Wall, which was between 8th and 9th Streets, for several years, but knee surgery and the pandemic delayed the project. Originally, he wanted to paint Superman and expand his portfolio of comic book favorites, but decided to immortalize a real hero instead.
In 2018 he painted Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente on the north side.
This summer, he’s hoping to tackle more horror murals similar to his homage to Bloomfield-born guru and special effects guru Tom Savini in Lawrenceville.