Larry was out of canvas. We had some small blank canvasses in the 930 gallery closet so I offered them to him. He invited me to his small apartment downtown and showed me his recent paintings. I gave him the 8 canvasses. That was 2 weeks ago.
Back story: Larry was homeless off and on for 25 years until 2007 when he sobered up and got some help from the Jefferson Street Baptist Center. He lived there at Jeff Street as a resident for a year or so and now has his own place down by the big library. I met Larry about a year and a half ago when Jesse Eubanks and I were putting together the exhibit Homeless: Telling our own Stories. Around that time, Larry became a regular attender at Sojourn and we often talk before the morning services, about his art or his family, how he’s spending his time, and the same questions for me.
Well, within the last couple weeks he’s filled up those 8 small canvasses and was ready for some more so I brought him some more and offered him his first gallery show, which will take place at the 930 in February 2010.
After offering him the exhibit and a walk over to McDonald’s, I hugged Larry goodbye and told him I respected him a lot. And it’s true. Larry is such an encouragement to me for the way he’s dealing with his past with strength and grace, the way he’s pursuing his interest in art with discipline and humility, and the way he greets me so warmly. He’s really learning from the gospel and it’s shaping his life and relationships.
You can check out his work at http://larrysmothersart.com/