(April 29, 2016) — The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission announced today that local artist Chris Felix will join the Freedom Film Series screening and panel discussion for American Pastime
—a compelling drama, directed Desmond Nakano, set in the Topaz War Relocation Center that interned thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII. The screening
of American Pastime
, the fourth film in the Freedom Film Series, will take place Wednesday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Harriet Tubman Theater. The screening is free and open to the public. Felix's commissioned artwork of American baseball legend Kenichi Zenimura entitled “Kenichi Zenimura, Go for Broke,” will be on view and available for purchase at the screening. A welcome reception will be held in the Grand Hall at 5:30 p.m. The Freedom Film Series is sponsored by Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.
Felix is a Cincinnati native and College of Art Advertising alumni whose work has been exhibited in museums across the country, including the Louisville Slugger Museum, National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (New York), Green Diamond Gallery (Cincinnati), Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center, National Art Museum of Sport (Indianapolis), George Krevsky Gallery (San Francisco), Convivio Center (San Diego) and the Art on the Levee Gallery (Newport). His art encapsulates the excitement of the great American pastime while celebrating and highlighting Cincinnati’s unique history and role in the sport and its unique players.
Felix’s skill in calling out little-known stories in a widely discussed sport helped to bring Kenichi “The Dean of the Diamond” Zenimura’s compelling story to the forefront of the discussion, where race and civil rights intersect with professional sports. Zenimura was born on January 25, 1900 in Hiroshima, Japan. Shortly after his birth, his family immigrated to America, where they settled in Honolulu, Hawaii. Zenimura’s career in professional baseball began in 1920 in Fresno, California, where he played on all Japanese-American professional teams. He became known as “The Father of Japanese American Baseball,” for his unique ability to play all positions and work collaboratively with Japanese-American, Negro League and Major League teams, quickly becoming an international ambassador for baseball, where he led tours to Japan in 1924, 1927 and 1937. During WWII, Zenimura and his family were sent to the Gila River Indian Reservation at the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona, where he established a baseball field and 32-team league. His efforts would give the hundreds of thousands of interned Japanese Americans a sense of pride and hope during a time of unjust, heightened paranoia and mistrust of a group of Americans.
"I have a great passion for humanity and baseball. Several years ago I painted Lefty O'Doul (the "Godfather" of Japanese Baseball) with several Japanese baseball players because I was in awe of O'Doul's efforts, accomplishments and 32 trips to Japan to ease relations between the United States and Japan after World War II,” says Felix. “Being commissioned to create this painting reflecting the positive impact of baseball and Kenichi Zenimura's incredible contribution during an extremely difficult time in American history has been a true honor."
Following the American Pastime
screening, Felix will participate in the panel discussion and Q&A with the producer of the film Barry Rosenbush and author, filmmaker, producer and historian, Kerry Yo Nakagawa. Special edition digital prints of “Kenichi Zenimura, Go for Broke” will be available for purchase at the screening; $75 for a 13x19" digital print, $200 for a 18x24" giclee and $250 for a 18x24" giclee signed by Kenichi Zenimura's son with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Felix and Barry Rosenbush.
screens Wednesday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Harriet Tubman Theater and is free and open to the public. A welcome reception will be held in the Grand Hall at 5:30 p.m. The Freedom Film Series is sponsored by Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. For more information and to RSVP, visit freedomcenter.org