Artist Addonis Parker is a giant on the streets of Miami, and not just because he stands 6' 8". For over a decade, Parker, who runs Art Forever Studios in Liberty City, has concentrated on social empowerment through paint and brush. From teaching art to at-risk youth, to completing large-scale mural commissions (like his 55-foot tall sunset on a public housing project), to participating in museum shows that celebrate black history and culture, Parker is a man on a mission to "do something historical."
He bears the weight of his quest gallantly, and at age 37, still walks with the
easy gait of a college ball player. The day we meet, he stands outside
the Culmer Library in front of a historic Purvis Young mural in
Overtown's troubled Gibson Park. He's just met Dr. Dorothy Jenkins
Fields of Miami's Historical Black Archives for the first time, and
they're getting acquainted on the land of what used to be Good Bread
Alley. Fields describes how the houses were once so close
together that Tuberculosis ran through the block like a bug in a rug.
District Five Commissioner Richard Dunn and Mayor Tomas Regalado have just
broken symbolic ground on a $10 million urban renewal project for the
park, and Addonis has been tapped to restore Purvis's mural, which is
faded, water damaged, and moldy. Parker points to a brush stroke, "See,
this looks like just a smear, but this was his expression. You don't
paint over the artist's work, you leave as much as possible. That's how
you restore." Here's to progress.