At the jail, the other day, I worked some more on the portrait of the inmate on the left side of the painting.  I shared a simple conversation with this guy.  He was amazed at the process of painting, the act of working on something to completion.  He talked about his daughter, who is seven years old.  He asked me how he might “get the ghetto out of his voice,” so that he could pursue a regular career when he is released.  I suggested reading good authors.  I encouraged him to read aloud, to learn how to communicate more clearly.

As time goes by, I think that touching people’s lives has less to do with painting, or music, or literary programs, or garden programs… and is just simply letting people know that they are worth something, through the medium of the art form.  And then on the heels of this, ironically, comes art.  Perhaps it’s the opposite of a vicious circle.

Lately, I’ve been sitting in on the counseling groups at the jail, and painting the inmates.  I haven’t been able to teach, because a while ago, I lost access to the easels which I was transporting to the Riverhead jail.  And so, in my garage, I made one easel for the jail. The prison staff and administration have been wonderfully accommodating, and have given the go ahead to the inmate wood shop workers.  The guys in the jail woodshop are taking the easel apart, copying the schematics, and producing six of them.  My hope is that, in a couple of weeks, I can resume teaching classical painting to the inmates.


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