Shades of Greatness

Shades of Greatness | Feb 25 – May 7, 2023

“Willie Foster & Young Fans,” Kadir Nelson, Oil on canvas

Experience the traveling art exhibit from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Shades of Greatness February 25 – May 7, 2023, in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. The critically-acclaimed exhibit features 35 original works of art produced by 28 diverse professional artists from across the country who interpret the Negro Leagues experience on-and-off the playing field. Renowned artist Kadir Nelson headlines the talented roster of artists in Shades of Greatness.

Kadir Nelson’s paintings are in the permanent collections of several notable institutions including The National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Nelson is the recipient of multiple awards including the 2020 recipient of the Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King Award for illustration, New York Times Best Illustrated Book Awards and several NAACP Image Awards.

This exhibit is made possible by The Library Foundation through contributions from The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Featured Artists

For this exhibit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum worked with artists to explore deeper stories and themes within the history of Negro League baseball. Shades of Greatness honors and celebrates African American history and sports.

“Catch Me A Ball Player,” Bonnye Brown, Oil on canvas

Larry Allen | Norm Barrister | Terry Beavers | NedRa Bonds | Eric Brace | Bonnye Brown | Henry Dixon | John Ferry | Raelee Frazier | Rob Hatem | Anthony High | Ed Hogar | Kevin Hosley | Robert Hurst | Jared Kraus | George Merris | Steve Musgrave |  Kadir Nelson | Frank Norfleet | Ramon Olivera |Lonnie Powell | Johne Richardson |Keith Shepherd | Kenneth Stanford |  Veronica Sublett | Cortney Wall | Larry Welo | Steve Wilson

Related Events

Opening Reception

Feb 24 | Fri |5-8:30 pm
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

March 4 | Sat
Join us for a day full of baseball fun! Come for one event or stay for all! Show us your team spirit by wearing your little league jersey, school jersey, or favorite team apparel!

Legacy: the Enduring Impact of the Negro Leagues

Mar 29 | Wed | 6:30 – 8pm
Marvin Auditorium 101A
Local author Todd Fertig discusses his book “Legacy: the Enduring Impact of the Negro Leagues on Modern Baseball and American Society.” This book features stories of four families of major league players who are direct descendants of Negro Leaguers. More than 50 major league stars, coaches and others provide original reflection upon the many ways in which the Negro Leagues changed sports, America and the world.

Opening Day at the K

Mar 30 | Thur | Marvin Auditorium
Watch the Royals’ home opener here at the library.

The Kansas City Monarchs and America’s National Pastime

Apr 6 | Thur | 6:30 – 8pm
Marvin Auditorium 101 BC
The history of Negro League baseball in America mirrors the racial strife experienced by African Americans in society. It was plagued by discrimination, racism and inequity, while its athletes were celebrated for their resiliency, professionalism and athleticism. The Kansas City Monarchs barnstormed across Kansas and the region to play more than 400 games between 1920 and 1957. This talk sheds new light on this sports history and the history of baseball in Kansas. Presented by Phil Dixon. This program is part of the The Humanities Kansas Speakers Bureau.

(Dugout edition!) Intro to Audio & Video Recording – Level 2 Tech Center Orientation Class

Thursday, April 13 | 4pm – 5pm
Recording Studio A (audio) & Recording Studio B (audio+video)
Learn the basics of audio and video recording in the Recording Studios of the Level 2 Tech Center. This class is required before booking recording studio time. Registration is required.

Stories from former KC Royals announcer Steve Physioc

Apr 19 | Wed | 6:30 – 8pm
Marvin Auditorium
Retired Kansas City Royals announcer Steve Physioc will talk about his experiences as a play-by-play announcer for baseball, football and basketball for both college and the pros.

Curious Kids—Baseball

Mar 21 | Mar 23 | Mar 28 | Mar 30 | Apr 4
3:45 – 4:45pm | Learning Center
Baseball has the best snacks, the coolest pennants and it’s fun to play! Join us for all things baseball. Don’t
forget to visit the Shades of Greatness exhibit for more baseball fun!

Shades of Greatness and the Modern MLB: Racial Justice Facilitated Conversation

April 26 | 6 – 7:30pm
Sabatini Gallery
Read 6 articles & discuss. A facilitator will allow participants to share stories & experiences through face-to-face communication, navigating through difficult conversations about race & racism. Registration is required

Hello, I'm your friendly neighborhood Curator of Exhibitions. I have the amazing job of creating, building and presenting wonderful art exhibits for you at the library's Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery.