Artist Jeremy Raymer is stepping up to the plate for his next mural, a tribute to Negro Leagues star and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Josh Gibson.
The slugger’s portrait now occupies the side of a Homestead building owned by Voodoo Brewing Co. Not only is the 2,000-square-foot painting Raymer’s largest work to date it also includes a contour cut section of wood extending above the roofline to create a 3-D effect. An unveiling celebration will be held May 21 at 4 p.m. Space is limited.
A $20 dollar donation includes admission to this informal happy hour event, as well as your choice of beverage (including beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic options) provided by Voodoo Brewing Company. Proceeds of the ticket will also be donated to the Josh Gibson Foundation.
Gibson, a catcher for the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords for 15 seasons between 1930 and 1946, hit nearly 800 home runs in his career. He died on January 20, 1947, just a few months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues. People still leave baseballs at Gibson’s gravesite in Allegheny Cemetery.
Voodoo is covering the cost of the mural, and Raymer’s concept was approved by The Josh Gibson Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based organization that provides academic, athletic and social programs for young people.
Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, but the pandemic canceled or postponed many events associated with the milestone. Sean Gibson, Josh Gibson’s great-grandson and executive director of the foundation, says celebrations will take place in 2021, including this summer’s Josh Gibson Youth Baseball Classic. Youth baseball teams from across the country will represent historic Negro League teams in a weekend of competition and fun.
There is also a petition to change the name of MLB’s Most Valuable Player Award to the Josh Gibson Memorial Baseball Award.
Jake Voelker, co-owner of Voodoo, says the unveiling coincides with the launch of the brewery’s full food menu.
Raymer’s had his eye on the Homestead wall, located between 8th and 9th avenues, for several years, but knee surgery and the pandemic delayed the project. He originally intended to paint Superman and add to his portfolio of comic book favorites but decided to immortalize a real-life hero instead.
In 2018, he painted Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente in the North Side.
This summer, he hopes to tackle more horror-themed murals similar to his homage to Bloomfield native and special effects guru Tom Savini in Lawrenceville.