How MLB player-starring artist Micah Johnson celebrates black boyhood

If one thing defined Micah Johnson’s early years, it was his obsession with baseball.

“Literally from the age of 3 – when I first started playing baseball – until I retired, baseball was my focus,” Johnson said. “I didn’t care for anything else.”

That dedication paid off. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox after two seasons on the Indiana University baseball team and eventually played for several major-league teams including the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays.

Johnson’s reason for focusing on sports was for the reason that he was as surprised as anyone else when he discovered a talent for fine arts in the 20s.

Micah Johnson works on a painting, called “Gyanodaya”.Victoria Phillips

“Even in my high school, I didn’t know where the art classes were,” he said. It was not until a team-building exercise led by the Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during spring training in 2016 that he began both to explore his interest in the arts and to tell his teammates about his artistic side .

“He had this routine where he would ask people to introduce themselves and say what they liked to do, and then he would ask them to do it,” Johnson said. . While he also had experience playing the piano, “I didn’t want to play the piano in front of the whole team, so I said ‘painting.” “He debuted after his first painting – Hall of Famer Molly Wills. Known as an artist to the team and throughout baseball.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson began taking commissions and exhibiting his art, including starting an installation at the W Hotel in Atlanta in 2018 and creating a mural featuring a portrait of Jackie Robinson in Kansas City, Missouri In the Negro Libes Baseball Museum. 2017. He also started working occasionally for his fellow baseball players, most notably a portrait of Ken Griffey Jr. for Ray Graser Blake Snell and a tattoo design for Milwaukee second baseman Jas Peterson.

Johnson’s stuttering arts career also played a key role in his retirement in 2018 to help him make the transition to the afterlife. While many professional athletes struggle to adjust soon after retirement, Johnson said he has the skills to create paintings and create professionally. Jumping is easy.

Johnson said, “When I retired, it was as if I had no other choice. I never made any changes in my life. I had an interview. I don’t have a college degree. All I need is art.” Was a hobby, ”Johnson said. Turns in 30 December. “So I said, ‘Let’s go.”

Perhaps surprising to some, Johnson’s post-baseball art rarely focuses on sports. Instead, he regularly explores topics that center black children and social issues. After one of his young nephews wondered whether there were black astronauts, Johnson was struck by the lack of representation of black Americans in visualizations about science and space.

Mixed media Art Peace is the name of two real-life young brothers named Jack, 7 and Raiden.Micah Johnson / Micah Johnson

Astronauts are a key part of Johnson’s latest major work, sv () -) rən-t “(pronounced” sovereignty “), created in collaboration with the blockchain-based art platform, Tinch Art. Give Mixed Media Art Peace The real-life young brothers are named Jack, 7 and Raiden, 8.

Sä-v (ə-) rən-t an is an interactive art installation using photography. The image will evolve to tell the story of Jax and Rayane’s arrival over the next 11 years.

What Johnson described as an “door of opportunity” is represented in an area standing before, with a friendly-looking astronaut standing on the other side. The door will slowly open every year on each child’s birthday, until the children are face to face with the astronaut, which serves as a visual representation of their dreams.

One of the elements that makes the work unique is that viewers will be able to donate bitcoins to the college fund for each child on their birthday, as the display also changes to reveal the days that they grow up But what do you want. A QR code associated with a bitcoin wallet. When he turns 18, each child will be able to use his college funds.

Jake and Raiden also have their 18th birthdays when each will disappear from the image, as their journey to adulthood will then be complete. Sä-v (ə-) rən-t sold recently sold at auction to a private collector for $ 120,000. Because the art is programmable, its new owner can also control whether the astronaut appeared to the public or not.

Visitors to Los Angeles will be able to view the work from December 10 to December 7, when it will be displayed on a billboard outside the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Johnson said that building one thing that included the blockchain seemed like a natural fit. “Bitcoin is an alternative to a financial system that historically has been oppressive against the black community. Nobody owns bitcoin,” he said. “You don’t have to ask for permission to do anything. You’re in control.”

As Johnson continues to promote sä-v (continues-) r -nt his and his other art, the focus on his second act has not gone to his former peers.

He said, “I have a lot of teammates who say ‘Hey, I want a painting.” And they first asked me some time ago. When he explains how much his work now costs, “they are like ‘I didn’t know.” They are like ‘I should have met you at spring training.’

Follow NBCBLK on Facebook, Twitter And Instagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *