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365 Days with Dad

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"Unwind Together" Painting by Cbabi Bayoc

"Unwind Together" Painting by Cbabi Bayoc

Mitali Sharma, Managing Editor

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Cbabi Bayoc is becoming a well-known name in the St. Louis area. The artist, a St. Louis local himself, had his work featured as the cover of Prince’s 2001 album, “The Rainbow Children,” and has even had Beyonce order cupcakes from Sweet Art, the vegan bakery/art studio that Bayoc runs with his wife, Reine.

Sweet Art began as an effort to combine the pair’s talents. Reine is the baker — hence the sweet — and Cbabi, of course, is the artist. With a personal studio, Cbabi began to focus on his artwork.

He started painting 20 years ago, upon graduating high school. Although he did not feel particularly passionate about school, Cbabi knew he had to study something and thus decided to pursue visual art as his focus in college.

“I caught the bug and haven’t gone back,” Cbabi said with respect to his passion for painting and art.

In 2012, he began a project called 365 Days with Dad. Cbabi painted one image of a Black father every day of 2012 in efforts to promote the role of fathers, particularly Black fathers at that time, in their children’s lives.

“There are far too many [children] who don’t either have their dad in their home or know them. I wanted them to know that there were Black men that were responsible and taking care of their children,” Cbabi said.

With hopes of achieving this goal, Cbabi would paint the portraits of the fathers’ real stories. Each painting had a true story behind it.

“I think it’s nice to see stories because we just see people walking around — mad, sad, whatever — but we have no idea what’s going on, and a lot of times it has to do with what’s happening in the heart,” Cbabi said.

Connecting to the heart is exactly what the project achieved. Cbabi received very emotional and passionate responses from the community — St. Louis and beyond.

“Impact wise, that was just reflected in stories people were sharing with me and emotions people felt when witnessed the project unfold,” Cbabi said. “I know [the project] works because people are crying and texting. It’s doing what it needs to do”

Inspired by the success of this last project, Cbabi has just started another 365 Days with Dad for 2017, five years after the original one in 2012. This time the project will feature fathers of all nationalities, not just African-American men.

“I really just want to keep pushing the importance of family, the importance of men being responsible, and using real stories to let people know how they’ve been impacted by the dads, sons, and uncles, nephews, or the local janitor or whoever it is they’ve had a connection with with a male presence and what it really means to our community in whole, not just in the Black community,” Cbabi said.

Cbabi’s passion about the responsibility of fatherhood stems from what he has observed in the world around him. His focus criticizes the gender roles that push dads out of the parental and nurturer responsibility.

“Mother’s day is really blown up — for great reason — but father’s day really isn’t treated in the same light,” Cbabi said.

As these gender roles suggest dads as not having full responsibility of their children and solely being the “babysitter,” Cbabi has made his email signature include a personal quote: “dads don’t babysit 365.”

“When I take my daughter to the grocery store I’m not babysitting, we just happen to go to the grocery store together. My time alone with my children is just as important as mom’s time alone,” Cbabi said.

As for the future, the new 365 Days with Dad is Cbabi’s main focus along with the expansion of Sweet Art, specifically Sweet Art’s mission, as Cbabi called it.

“Our mission there [is] to have people of all walks sit next to each other, enjoy good food, and just have great conversation,” Cbabi said.

Similarly, Cbabi advocates pursuit of a life mission to those transitioning to adulthood in today’s society.

“Know whatever’s in your heart and whatever you’re passionate about and try to find a way to make it your life mission and just spread some love!”

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365 Days with Dad