Last week, celebrated local painter Cbabi Bayoc, father of Crossroads students Jurni (11th), Ajani (9th), and Birago (7th), spent the morning in our lobby at work on a portrait of American soul and jazz musician, Gil Scott-Heron, and visited with art students.
Scott-Heron is best known as a spoken word performer, especially for his composition The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Some consider him the first MC.
Cbabi says he was drawn to this image of Scott-Heron because of the drapery and light, “and I love painting hands.” He advises art students “not to worry about every little detail. . . . don’t paint more than you see.”
Cbabi is a past recipient of a Regional Arts Commission’s Artist Fellowship Award. His work has been featured far and wide; an original painting famously appeared on the cover of Prince’s 2001 album The Rainbow Children.
Music and family are two of Cbabi’s central subjects. As part of his 365 Days with Dad project, covered by St. Louis Public Radio in 2014, he has captured hundreds of moments of family life.
Cbabi and his wife Reine own SweetArt, a bakery, cafe, and art gallery in south St. Louis. Sometimes, you’ll find him painting there, where his work adorns the walls.
Since his college days at Grambling University, Bayoc says he has known he wanted to paint professionally. A stint as a portrait artist at Six Flags was good training for painting in front of an audience. All the commotion, he says, “doesn’t affect what I see.”