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The beauty of becoming an artist lies in the fact that it is never too late to become one. Finding your niche in the art world is similar to finding a sense of belonging, a sense of home. This was the theme for Vice Mayor Shelley’s Artist in the Spotlight presentation for May and June, where he honored Homestead Community Center artists Mary Lou Hampton, Dennis Ross, Melody Black Thorp, Clinton Solomon, Vanessa Jenkins, and Dottie Douglas.
Mary Lou Hampton expanded on this theme. “Actually, I had never done art until five years ago when I took my first class at the community center. First, I did watercolors, then went to pastels and acrylics. I never imagined that I’d actually be painting like this. I just really enjoy it.” Ms. Hampton is a lifelong resident of Miami-Dade County and Homestead. She participates in the Homestead Community Center Programs, the Red Hat Ladies, and actively supports the Native American children of North Dakota tribes.
Dennis Ross describes his exhibited artwork as “The Creation Story.” In his depiction, Mr. Ross included the six days of creation with the Sabbath, along with the galaxy, the constellations, the planets, and the Big Bang. As a retired English and Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Ross like to tell a story with his artwork. He is also a retired Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel.
The artists all thanked their drawing and watercolor teacher Vanessa Arthur Jenkins, who has been attending the community center since 1989 and inspiring students as a teacher at the center since 2001. Ms. Jenkins, who just celebrated her 80th birthday, has authored and illustrated her own children’s story and poems, and believes anyone can become an artist, saying “it’s a matter of perseverance.”
Melody Black Thorp, a Homestead native and an author and illustrator of seven children’s books, explains that “it is never too late to log, blog, write, or learn the pleasure and relaxation of art.” Ms. Black Thorp actively participates at the Homestead Community Center, Lamplighters Writers, and Homestead Center for the Arts. Mr. Clinton Solomon is also an active member of the Homestead Community Center and a retiree of the Real Estate industry. Mr. Solomon’s unique freestyle in pastels and ink known as Nu-Rogue Art has been displayed as cover art for several novels.
Vice Mayor Shelley believes that the “Homestead Community Center is a sanctuary for beginning artist, proficient artist, and mature artist alike.” He also acknowledged that “the center not only hosts these resident artist, but also serves as a center where life, friendships, and art is shared.”
The Artist in the Spotlight program, which was created in 2010 by Vice Mayor Shelley, seeks to identify, nurture and empower local artists by giving them the opportunity to present their work to the general public. The artwork of Mary Lou Hampton, Dennis Ross, Melody Black Thorp, Clinton Solomon, Vanessa Jenkins, and Dottie Douglas will be displayed until the end of June at Homestead’s William F. Dickinson Community Center, located at 1601 N. Krome Avenue.