Duane Corey: Shadow Ball in Jasper’s Town

Submitted by Web Communications on December 7, 2010

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October 18 – 25, 2010
Shadow Ball in Jasper’s Town
by Duane Corey in the Lukacs Gallery

In a celebration of Negro League baseball in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Corey’s paintings depict life during a time when the color barrier was still in existence and players like Satchel Paige exhibited their talents in the “shadows” of the Negro Leagues instead of in the major league. According to Corey, “Baseball was a way of ‘Americanizing’ new citizens. When the wave of immigration hit the United States in the early 19th century, the newcomers embraced the game to feel more ‘American.’ Many of the players in the Negro League were immigrants as were their fans, particularly in Bridgeport, and baseball was an ‘American’ activity that they shared as players and as spectators.”

Corey’s paintings have a narrative component to them. Suzanne Chamlin, associate professor of studio art, said, “This work continues a rich tradition of artists working with cultural icons to inspire visual imagery from Warhol to Bearden to Ellen Gallagher … Corey’s inventive use of cropping and spatial construction serve as realizations of the contemporary flat surface. He discovers true balance in both drawing and painting in these works.”

The “Shadow Ball” of the exhibition title is a term that has been used synonymously with Negro League baseball. “It refers to a pantomime routine the players would do before the game to entertain the fans,” said Corey. He continued, “I chose to place the action of my paintings in ‘Jasper’s Town’ in recognition of the enormous impact Jasper McLevy had on the city of Bridgeport. He was mayor from 1933 to 1957, and though he had no direct connection with Negro League baseball, it flourished in Bridgeport during that time, much as it did throughout Connecticut and all of America.”

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