Graig Kreindler is one of the best-known and most widely-respected names in sports art. Raised in Rockland County, NY, Kreindler is a graduate of New York City's School of Visual Arts with a BFA in illustration and a Masters in Art Education from Lehman College in the Bronx. His work has been featured in juried art shows and museums nationwide, with pieces displayed a numerous public art spaces and featured in nationally-distributed books, newspapers, magazines and television. His artwork has been featured on Topps baseball cards, and is currently on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Most recently, more than 200 of Kreindler's works were commissioned and displayed as part of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's "Black Baseball in Living Color" art exhibit. Kreindler's work has drawn raves, none more glowing than that of hip hop pioneer Chuck D of Public Enemy, who recently tweeted "Graig Kreindler is a time machine. He places you in a 1950s ballpark where color is impossible. Colorized photos, 'When it Was a Game" style doesn't even come close to Kreindler. He puts you right there with the Cracker Jack and beer."
We have been friends with Graig for many years. Several years ago, after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, he approached us with the idea of offering a painting, specifically of Roberto Clemente, with proceeds to benefit the Latino community. Over the course of the last several years, we have watched this project take shape, as Graig selected a photo, and slowly applied his craft. Earlier this year, he presented us with the final product: "Proud as a Peacock," depicting a triumphant Clemente standing on second base, having hitting a double during a Pirates playoff game on October 9, 1972, just days after attaining his 3,000th hit. The Puerto Rican native died less than three months later, on December 31, in a tragic plane crash while traveling to Nicaragua to deliver earthquake relief supplies.
The painting is a triumph, measuring 30" x 20", painted with oil on linen. A masterwork of light and color, the subject is placed in the center of the canvas, alone, peacefully basking in the sun after a simple hit in a baseball game, blissfuly unaware of the tragedy that would strike the people of Nicaragua in a few short months, and the circumstances that would take his life, nearly 50 years ago.
"I've been in love with the photograph this painting is based on ever since I first laid eyes on it," Kreindler said. "There's simply something regal about the way Roberto stands there, basking in the warm sun like that. I see it in my mind's eye whenever his name is conjured up. To me, its one of those rare images that transcends sport, especially knowing the quality of Roberto's character and his commitment to humanitarian causes. And it's because of that I want 100% of the proceeds from the auction of this artwork to go to UnidosUS, an organization for which I believe he would have had a deep affinity."
In the year of the 50th anniversary of Clemente's death, we cannot think of a better way to honor Roberto Clemente than to support an organization dedicated to the Latino community. As such, Love of the Game will also donate its share of the proceeds from the sale of this painting to UnidosUS.
Perhaps the best illustrator of Kreindler's popularity is not the considerable publicity or adulation he receives, but the very small number of Kreindler works that have made their way into the hobby via resale: the majority of Kreindler's work is commissioned privately by his clients, and once the work is finished, the owner generally keeps it. Indeed, we are aware of only a handful of other Kreindler pieces to make it to public auction. Since Kreindler does not make prints of his work available for sale, the only way to own one is to own an original piece. Recently, citing a waiting list approaching nine years, Kreindler announced a temporary moratorium on commissioned work, meaning he will no longer be accepting any private commissions for the time being. This means that any collector hoping to own a new creation of Kreindler's essentially has one chance: win this painting.