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Not all the competition is on the field; this baseball art invitational was won by Florence artist Keith Klein

This painting, "Quantum Fielder," by Florence artist Keith Klein took top place in the All-Star art competition over the weekend.

This painting, “Quantum Fielder,” by Florence artist Keith Klein took top place in the All-Star art competition over the weekend.

Florence artist Keith Klein took first place in the “All-Start Art Invitational: Baseball Art and Metaphor” at the Cincinnati Art Galleries over the weekend. Here’s the story The NKyTribune’s Mike Rutledge wrote Friday about the competition.

By Mike Rutledge
NKyTribune Correspondent

Like the baseball players who will take the field during Cincinnati’s 2015 All-Star Game, dozens of mostly local artists also have been focused on the competition in recent months.

For those who love the game – even those who aren’t big art fans – Cincinnati Art Galleries tonight
and Saturday will unveil the “All-Star Art Invitational: Baseball Art and Metaphor,” at 225 E. 6th Street in Downtown Cincinnati.

The exhibit features 79 artworks by more than 40 artists. They include paintings, photographs and sculptures, centered around America’s pastime.

Just like with Cracker Jacks, this competition comes with several prizes: First place brings $1,000, with the winner being announced at 6 p.m. tonight during the 5-to-8 p.m. opening. The competition was judged by Dennis Harrington, director of the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery at the Aronoff Center.

Florence artist Keith Klein has been preparing for the event throughout the baseball season, painting three baseball-related oil paintings, often while listening to the Reds on the radio.

“I’m so happy to represent this side of the river,” said Klein, 55, who has had studios on or near Main Street in Florence since the early 1980s. “I haven’t really done a lot of sports paintings in the past, and this opportunity came up, and it’s a very interesting challenge. I kind of fell in love with baseball again, listening to it while I’m working, and listening to what it really is.”

Klein likes that baseball is a deeper, more symbolic thing than it first appears to be.

“Baseball is kind of a microcosm of life – it’s kind of a way we think that life should be,” he said. “It’s like religion, only it’s safer, in that you can get in there, and you can yell at it, and it’s OK.”

He loves the field’s precise order, which contrasts with the chaos that can ensue at any moment during a game.

Florence Artist Kevin Klein with the two paintings in the exhibit. (Photo by Mike Rutledge)

Florence Artist Kevin Klein with his other two paintings in the exhibit. (Photo by Mike Rutledge)

“I’m very encouraged with the show,” said Randy Sandler, owner of Cincinnati Art Galleries. “I think there are a lot of wonderful pieces in the show, and I hope the public sees it. I think you can enjoy the show whether you’re an art collector or not.”

During the openings tonight and from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, “We’re going to have popcorn popping, and peanuts,” he said. “It’ll be a fun thing.”

Most of the artists come from Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana, but one was from California, with another from Cincinnati Reds’ rival city, St. Louis.

“There are some very clever pieces,” Sandler said. “I think the artists brought their sense of humor to the pieces. Not all, of course.”

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