When Cbabi Bayoc set out to paint an image of black fathers every day of 2012, he knew Facebook would be the way he shared those images.
“I didn’t think that’s all I would have to do for it to spread,” he says.
But it was.
As of Jan. 2, Bayoc’s Facebook page for his project, 365 Days with Dad, had 4,549 likes with 1,359 people actively engaging. On Dec. 12, 147 people like the day’s image, 81 on Dec. 10, and a series of seven paintings he added earlier in the month got 808 likes with 62 comments.
“That’s kind of the goal of social media, to have your readers or customers or perspective customers engaged in the content that you’re uploading,” says Michael Kiel, executive vice president of Leap Clixx, a St. Louis-based online marketing firm.
Bayoc started his project to show positive images of black fathers and used Facebook as the way to sell the original paintings. He hoped he’d sell the pieces, which he has.
“I didn’t think people would tell people, would tell people, would tell people,” he says.
St. Louis Artist Depicts African American Fathers With Their Children
For the past year, artist and businessman Cbabi Bayoc has attempted to create a portrait a day of a father interacting with his kid.
The resulting project, titled “365 Days With Dad,” goes beyond showing fathers who go through the motions of parenthood, and shows engaging and teachable moments.
Originally from O’Fallon, Illinois Bayoc began this project as a means of stability, but over the course of a year it morphed into a means of preserving memories and encouraging parents to be their best selves when with their kids.
He has also used social media to create a following of his work. Bayoc posts his completed images on Facebook, allowing viewers to contact him to recreate memories shared with their own fathers. The images vary from the fun and lighthearted (going fishing, piggyback rides) to the bittersweet and solemn (returning home from war, saying goodbye to a parent).
Though Bayoc fell short of completing 365 photos in 2012, he plans to finish the project this winter and find a place to exhibit his work.
St. Louis Public Radio’s Erin Williams talked with Cbabi Bayoc about the memories he has with his own father, who died when he was twelve, being a father to his own three children, and using his talents to promote a positive image of fatherhood.
Every day, St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc spends eight hours painting fathers and 24 hours being one.
He and his wife Reine Bayoc have three children: Jurni, 12, Ajani, 9, and Birago, 7. As Thanksgiving draws near, the family is thankful for each other and for many aspects of the “365 Days with Dad” project.
Bayoc announced last December his intention to paint one father image every day in 2012 to sell at greatly reduced prices. At the time, sales were slow and he thought “365 Days” would make it possible to earn a living making art while promoting positive views of African-American fathers.
“If I'm willing to give eight to nine hours a day to a job, I can give eight to nine hours to an image that will do a lot more good than clocking in and out on a time clock will,” Bayoc told the Beacon at the project’s onset.
Though he’s running behind -- he’s only on Day 229 -- there’s at least some steady money coming in. Plus, he gets to work at home a lot.
Painting gets wrapped around his regular duties of child care, grocery shopping for Reine’s SweetArt bakery and delivering freshly iced cupcakes to wedding receptions. From the children’s perspective, this year hasn’t been that different from any other.
“I thought he was going to be busier and he wasn’t,” Jurni said. “He still has time for us to do fun things.”
It was a royal blue, with lace trim on the sleeves, a band of lace and three red roses across the front. It hit her spindly legs mid-thigh.
She can’t remember that day at all, but it exists, like those memories created from years of hearing a story second-hand.
She has other memories, too, some she thinks are hers, and some constructed from moments her older sisters and mother witnessed themselves.
Growing up, Finley's oldest sister, Karen Finley, remembers trips to the ice cream parlor, Sunday drives after church, and how their father would tuck Jennifer into the plaid baby seat on his bike and take his girls on a ride.
Finley's memories are less solid. She remembers how small she felt around her father, and how big his hands seemed.
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Like many of the kids he meets, painter Cbabi Bayoc never learned about black artists growing up. Musicians, comics, actors? Sure. But visual artists? No way.
Part of it is the economics," Bayoc said. "We always want our kids to make a living, not be a 'starving artist' on the street. I understand that. I wanted to be a truck driver.
Instead, Bayoc has made a name for himself painting about his two favorite subjects: African-American music and family life. And this month, Aisle 1 Gallery is hosting a solo show that explores another one of Bayoc's passions: birds. Some of the paintings feature birds nesting in branches that spell out uplifting messages. Those are Bayoc's "Birds & Words." Other works boast birds with human characteristics.
"To me, they look like little kids," Bayoc said. "For some reason, I just enjoy painting them."
Birds are all the rage today. So much so that hipster sketch comedy show "Portlandia" mocked the trend in its debut episode ("In Portland, you can put a bird on something and just call it art") and has created the website putabirdonit.com that superimposes a bird on any Web page. Bayoc admits he's stumped by their appeal.
I have found my true calling with "365 DAYS WITH DAD." For the entire year of 2012, I will paint a new image of fatherhood every day, depicting positive images of "present" black men interacting with their children. This project is in honor of my dad whom we lost in 1984.
My original paintings depict black men because I personally know the hurt black children feel when dad is not present, whether by choice, incarceration, divorce, death or whatever other reason there may be.
This is not just an opinion. According to Children-our investment.org, homes without fathers ultimately affect children in numerous tragic ways:
Artist Cbabi Bayoc thinks he may have found his defining project with "365 Days With Dad."
"For the entire year of 2012, I will paint a new image of fatherhood every day," he said. "They will be positive images, black men with their children."
Bayoc, 39, lives in south St. Louis with his wife and three kids. His wife owns and runs Sweet Art From Scratch Bakery at 2203 S. 39th St. in St. Louis. Bayoc grew up in O'Fallon and is an alumnus of Southwestern Illinois College and Grambling State University.
He was Clifford Miskell Jr. when he graduated from O'Fallon Township High School. But he later changed his name, which stands for Creative Black Artist Battling Ignorance and his last name for Blessed African Youth Of Creativity.
South St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc Spending A Year Creating A Painting A Day Dealing With Being A Dad
ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)— Being a dad is a full time job. South City artist Cbabi Bayoc has an ambitious plan to inspire dad's everywhere. Bayoc is taking on a test of his artistic endurance. He's painting a new image of fatherhood for every day of 2012. His project is called 365 Days With Dad.
2012 may be the year of the dragon in Chinese astrology, but it's the year of the father for local painter Cbabi Bayoc.
Bayoc, whose dad died when he was 11, has portrayed fathers in African-American families throughout his career. This year, the father of three is prioritizing his emphasis on dads in a much bigger way.
"365 Days w/Dad" is Bayoc's New Year's resolution and the name of his project. He plans to paint one father figure each day for the entire year.