Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has said that the moment he knew he wanted to be a writer, he was at home watching an American baseball game on TV. There was a crack of a bat and a ball and he decided what he would do with his life.
The great American pastime's kinship with artistry is somewhere in the private confrontations of the sport; the batter alone to face the ball, the solitary action of a runner's foot to home plate. And with that focus on the individual comes the charm of boyish triumph; legends such as Rube Wadell who saved a woman from drowning and was bitten by a lion when he wasn't throwing his Triple Crown pitches.
Baseball through the eyes of Centro-matic singer/guitarist Will Johnson looks like that. On panels of wood, he paints portraits of the men who've served the beloved sport with their life stories, such as Willie Mays and Cool Papa Bell. Johnson frames their faces with words, sometimes words the players famously said and sometimes Johnson's own wide-eyed biographies of the figures.
The night before they set out to record Centro-matic's next record, Johnson and drummer Matt Pence, who's a photographer, will share their work Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Good Records with "Late Blooms/Quality Starts."
There'll be snacks for browsers, and Johnson will play a solo acoustic set. Pence will be selling some of his framed photos, but Johnson's baseball paintings are only for viewing. It's the first time the pair has teamed up for an art show.
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