By Cristin Wilson – With his waist length dreadlocks tied back his gaze is fixated on the canvas against his wall. This is his latest piece. It doesn’t have a name, but he’s been working on it for the past week. Surrounded by others, it has his full attention. He’s created a regal beauty with coffee colored skin and short natural hair, though he mentions that could change. Not wearing any clothes she’s looking straight ahead with a determined look surrounded by cotton. Her face tells you that her life hasn’t been easy, but then again neither has Adrian Rhodes.
At 42 he’s been through a lot, which is why when he mumbles that he’s not done yet, it’s not clear if he’s talking about the painting or himself.
“I was always smart, but where I grew up there were a lot of distractions,” said Rhodes who is from Gainesville, yet he has been creating art in Jacksonville for over two decades.
For Rhodes those distractions meant a neighborhood full of drugs and guns. He’s even found himself on the wrong side of the law a few times when he was younger.
“I was always around it…My best friends went down that path. My best friend went to prison for robbery,” he said.
Looking at Jacksonville’s crime stats he hopes more kids can get a paint brush, a piece of clay or even an instrument. He’s convinced it can make all the difference. Meanwhile back in Rhodes’ Westside neighborhood he has a few success stories of his own; children he’s worked with in different programs over the years. He said it may take time, but the kids are worth it. Somebody has to care. “It’s hard teaching them, but there’s a respect you know what I mean,” he said.
Shown is Rhodes painting one of his masterpieces.