The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host local artist Chris Felix May 4, whose 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 of 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 is the fourth film in The Freedom Film series and 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. A welcome reception will be held in the Grand Hall at 5:30 p.m. with the film screening promptly at 6:30 p.m. The Freedom Film Series is sponsored by Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.
Felix, a Cincinnati native and College of Art Advertising alumni, has been featured in museums across the country including, The Louisville Slugger Museum, The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (New York), The Green Diamond Gallery (Cincinnati), The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, The Museum Center at Cincinnati Union Terminal, The National Art Museum of Sport (Indianapolis), The 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 immediately began to establish 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, heighted paranoia and mistrust of a group of Americans.
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Assia Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator
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