The Art of J is for Justify

Book Illustrations on Display at Local Brewery

DAYTON, Ohio,  April 12, 2019 — Local artist Lesley Baumann’s horse illustrations from her upcoming book, J is for Justify, will be on display at Crooked Handle Brewing Company this May. A free opening reception will be held the evening before the Kentucky Derby from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 3. While the artwork will be on display during the taproom’s normal business hours, the reception will offer attendees an opportunity to meet the artist, ask questions about the process behind the artwork (it might surprise you!) and enjoy an evening out at a local craft brewery.

J is for Justify is an alphabet book, inspired by the 13th Triple Crown winner, that features 26 famous racehorses. From American Pharoah to Zenyatta, the pages are filled with colorful illustrations and tales of courage, perseverance and victory. Though it is a children’s picture book, it is sure to entertain the young at heart and horse lovers alike. Anecdotes include details about Justify’s knack for achieving impossible goals, Rachel Alexandra’s ability to outrun the boys and the fact that Secretariat’s heart was about twice as large as that of a normal horse. It is also layered with details  including the horses’ birthdays and which ones won the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.

The illustrations feature Baumann’s detailed horse drawings. A departure from her normal utilization of traditional media, these pieces were all created digitally. The phases of their strides are reminiscent of a Muybridge stop-motion photograph sequence, and if you were to turn through the pages as if they were from a flip book, the horses would appear to animate. Bold background patterns are derived from the jockeys’ silks, and the repetition of the alphabet letters in the artwork is a detail that the youngest readers will enjoy. The display at Crooked Handle will feature each of the vibrant illustrations printed on gallery-wrapped canvas.

“It has been such a thrill to take something that I’ve always loved doing — drawing horses, learning more about horses and talking about horses — and package that up neatly into this tangible book,” notes Baumann. “I really love sharing the stories of these racetrack heroes with my son, and I hope that other families enjoy the experience of pouring over the details together as well.”

Born the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown, Lesley Baumann is a graphic designer, animal portrait artist and the author/illustrator of the picture book J is for Justify. She grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and earned her BS in Design from the University of Cincinnati before moving to Arizona, California, Vermont and back to Ohio while building her client base. In all aspects of her work, Lesley has a skill for observing a subject and translating it into stunning visuals that resonate with the intended audience. In her free time, she enjoys riding her American Saddlebred named Clever, cheering for her favorite racehorses as they thunder down the stretch and attempting to keep up with her exuberant young Justify fan.

Mark your calendars for the art show reception from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 3, 2019. Crooked Handle Brewing Company is located at 760 North Main Street, Springboro, OH 45066. To learn more about the brewery, visit For more information about the art, visit or call Lesley Baumann at (937) 395-2012. You can also follow along with the book’s progress on social media. Instagram: Facebook: Twitter:

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Lesley Baumann

Lesley A.J. Baumann is an artist, graphic design and horse lover.

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