I feel like all my years of watching Matlock and detective sitcoms have culminated into this satisfying moment, which is happening right now! After meeting with D.C. Clark last week Thursday, he shared our meeting on his Facebook page. This led me to many new contacts pertaining to my dad and his artwork. Also, my meeting with Altine, which came recommended by Mr. Horace Roberts, also came with many new contacts. All eager and willing to share their relationship with my father and what how his art impacted the community and their own personal lives.
Everything is coming together as I imagined it would but it is still an overwhelming feeling. This Saturday I felt this urge to visit a park that my father use to mentor at and do free art workshops for the community kids and seniors. It was a Saturday afternoon and the community center was locked. I tried peaking though the windows in hopes of finding an older employee that may have remembered my father but it was useless the lights were out and there was no one in sight. As I turned to head to the car a young man from across the street yelled, “It’s closed, the park is closed”. I smiled and said thank you and continued to head to my car. Something told me to turn around and talk to the young man. I turned around introduced myself and asked if he knew when the park would reopen. He said not for a few weeks there’s a water line break. I asked if he knew anyone that worked there, assuming he lived locally, he smiled and said I work here that’s how I know. I instantly noticed his t-shirt that said STAFF printed on it. Delvin was a park employee and was aware of the park hours and details surrounding the parks closing.
Reluctantly, I asked if there were any painting on the wall. He said yes a huge mural but it’s before our time. My heart started the race because I knew my father frequented the park in the early to mid-1980s. When he said the mural was of Dr. Martin Luther King I wanted to scream. We exchanged information and I am excited to return in hopes of discovering that the mural in deed was painted by my father. This is one of many stories that have occurred throughout my sabbatical. I am so grateful for this experience.
Also, this weekend I was in search of a mural of the late Dewey W. Knight Jr. located at a local hospital. I am still looking for that painting but my search lead me to another painting located in the Downtown Miami Government Center. Best of all, I was able to get in contact with his son who has several of my father’s artwork including portraits of his parents. Dewey W. Knight Jr. was a pioneer in his roles as a Miami-Dade Administrator and Manager and have positively impacted the lives of children and families throughout Florida and beyond.
During my journey there has been some disappointments. I underappreciated the number of my father’s murals that have already been damaged, destroyed, or replaced. However, disappointment never seemed to last. I would always be confronted with an individual that would renew and lift my spirits as they would talk about the impact of my father and his contributions as though he was still alive. While driving to a law office where I was told my father’s work was displayed I passed by my father’s gallery. At that very moment a group of men were painting over it with white paint. My heart started racing but at that moment I was reminded that this is why I was doing this…this is why I was documenting and cataloging his work.
If you have a private art piece or have worked with my father in the past, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com. To stay current with me and my projects, please visit my website at www.tashathomas.org and follow me on Instagram at @dr.tasha.thomas or look up #findingmyfatherspaintings #oscarthomassr