This year marks 25 years since my father, artist Oscar Thomas, transitioned from his physical form. I wanted to do something special to honor his commitment to the community and the arts. For decades, my father’s artwork has graced the walls of Liberty City, Opa-locka, Little Havana, and Historic Overtown. His most prominent and recognizable landmark piece was the Dr. Martin Luther King mural on the corner of 62nd Street and 17th Avenue entitled Prince of Peace. For more than 30 years, it was a staple in the Liberty City community and was a constant reminder of Dr. King’s nonviolence principles. Other notable murals still on display today include the Harry Belafonte and Dr. King mural at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center, and The Summit of the America’s mural located at Maximo Gomez Domino Park in which he completed with student volunteers at Southwest Sr. High School. I would be remiss if I did not mention the 120- by 30-foot mural that my father painted on the southside of the Lyric Theater, which took him three years to complete.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bayunga Kialeuka, Amadlozi Gallery Manager at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center who connected me with Managing Director Mr. Marshall Davis and Assistant Center Director Mr. Theodore Harrell. In meeting with the men, I shared my desire to honor my father and was presented with the opportunity to conduct an exhibition and reception in his honor. Below is the press release for the Oscar Thomas exhibition.
The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center presents We the People, an art exhibit and memorial honoring prolific Miami muralist, Oscar Thomas, on the 25th anniversary of his passing. We the People is a multi-media biographical project celebrating Thomas' life and legacy curated by Dr. Tasha Thomas-Straughter. The exhibition features Thomas' original artwork spanning three decades, a photography collection of his murals in South Florida history, never before seen videos, and a tribute showcase, curated by fine art painter and muralist, Addonis Parker, highlighting local and international artists inspired by Thomas' legacy.
The exhibit will be held in the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center’s Amadlozi Art Gallery and the Wendell A. Narcisse Performing Arts Theater. We the People and the tribute showcase will be on exhibit April 23, 2022 to June 5, 2022. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. A gallery reception featuring live music, light refreshments, and book launch of Oscar Thomas Miami’s Beloved Visual Artist: His Life and Legacy by Dr. Tasha Thomas-Straughter will be held on on Saturday, May 21, 2022, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reception tickets are $10 and are available on Eventbrite.
The exhibit reflects Thomas’ entire life’s work starting from his hometown in Costa Rica. The exhibit highlights his beginnings in the 1970’s, his influence in the 1980’s, and his trajectory in the 1990’s. Thomas’ murals have graced the walls of Liberty City, Opa-locka, Little Havana, and Historic Overtown. His most prominent and recognizable landmark piece was the Dr. Martin Luther King mural entitled "Prince of Peace" on the corner of 62nd Street and 17th Avenue.
“Oscar Thomas’ legacy represents an important part of Miami’s art history,” Marshall L. Davis, the Center’s Managing Director explains. “We’re proud to host We the People and to tell Thomas’ story.”
We the People is curated by Dr. Tasha Thomas-Straughter, daughter of the exhibiting artist Oscar Thomas. Dr. Thomas-Straughter is a researcher, published author, and is debuting as a curator to honor the 25th anniversary of her father’s paintings. She has documented her journey into her father's work on social media at #FindingMyFathersPaintings.
We the People is sponsored by The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Sunshine Health, Aarango Billboard & Construction and Four Eyes Publishing.
For inquiries, please contact the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center at (305) 638-6771 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit AHCACMiami.org. For high resolution image of Oscar Thomas, click here. Photography by Jeffery Salter.
About the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center
Part of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center was founded in 1975 to serve as the nesting ground for emerging talent in the performing and visual arts in the heart of Liberty City. By providing quality instruction, inspiration, and encouragement to young people within the community, the Center has fulfilled its mission for more than 40 years, and everyday creates a means for youth to discover their artistic talents. Visit www.ahcacmiami.org and follow on social media @ahcacmiami and #AHCACMiami.
About the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs
The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council develop cultural excellence, diversity, access, and participation throughout Miami-Dade County by strategically creating and promoting equitable opportunities for artists and cultural organizations, and our residents and visitors who are their audiences. The Department receives funding through the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, The Children’s Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Florida Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Peacock Foundation, Inc. and The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation at The Miami Foundation. Other support and services are provided by TicketWeb for the Culture Shock Miami program, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the South Florida Cultural Consortium, and the Tourist Development Council. For information visit www.miamidadearts.org. #