Negro League featured in new art exhibition at Fairfield University Bookstore
(Posted on September 27, 2012) By day, Duane Corey is a veteran public safety officer at Fairfield University and a security officer at St. Vincent's Medical Center. But in his spare time, this Derby, Conn., resident puts brush to canvas, bringing to vivid life a host of images, many featuring the baseball stars of the Negro League.
The fruits of this gifted artist's labors will be on display for the month of October at the Fairfield University Bookstore, 1499 Post Road, Fairfield. Corey's art will grace the walls of the stairway to the second floor from October 1 through October 31. The bookstore is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Corey has been painting for more than 30 years, calling his pastime "an internal calling of mine." He began at 15, when he took an art class at the Trumbull Mall. "I just fell in love with it," he said. Soon he was creating stage props through a teen program in his native Bridgeport.
Corey graduated from Morehouse University with an accounting degree and went into the banking industry, but he was ready for a career change in the mid-1980s. He took an EMT class, got a part-time job at the former Park City Hospital in Bridgeport, Conn., and eventually joined the security staff at Fairfield University in 1998. "I was the oldest child in my family and I guess I always felt a need to protect and serve," he said.
But he never stopped painting, creating vivid portraits in acrylics, which he favors "because they dry faster, so if you come up with a new concept halfway through, you can change your mind."
Corey has shown his work at local craft shows over the years, and he's had a solo and group exhibitions at the University's Walsh Art Gallery and Lukacs Gallery. He's especially pleased with a series he's been working on that features baseball heroes of the Negro Leagues. From legendary pitcher Satchel Paige to champion slugger Josh Gibson, he's caught them all on the field and off with his vibrant palette.
One memorable portrait shows James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell sliding into home. "They used to say he was so fast he could switch the light switch and be in bed before the lights went out," Corey said, laughing.
Corey, who has lived in Derby for 20 years, has incorporated some Bridgeport players into the series to honor his hometown. "Anything that puts Bridgeport in a good light, I want to do," he said.
That is, if he can find the time. "I work a lot of overtime here and I have another job, but it's all about making time management a priority," he said. "It's something that's important to me."
Vol. 45, No. 50