Papa T, ArtHop
“Everything is go-go-go for me, so art is a way to wind down.”
Meet Tony Persons (aka Papa T). Tony is a full-time special education teacher for Clovis Unified and a part-time artist.
Born and raised in Turlock, Tony and his wife moved to Fresno to attend Fresno State. He loved that Fresno was a big city, compared to his hometown, and that there was a lot more to do. At Fresno State, Tony and his wife both majored in Deaf Studies. His wife finished school before he did and got a teaching job. When he graduated, she did not want to leave Fresno. As a result, they decided to stay in the area and raise a family.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Tony describes his art as being “elementary,” very quick and spontaneous. He does not have the patience to sit down for long periods of time. He never bothers to plan his art. “The drawing has to happen right now or not at all,” he says. Tony enjoys scribbling with vibrant colors and likes it when the colors overlap. His artwork is composed mostly of acrylic paint and crayons.
As a a full-time teacher and a father of two young children, Tony uses art as a form of therapy. ”Everything is go-go-go for me, so art is a way to wind down,” he says. He tries to draw and paint when he is exhausted at the end of the day.
Tony says that his art has changed very little since he started drawing. Overall, he receives positive feedback regarding his artwork, because it reminds people of when they were a kid.
THE BEGINNING OF ART
Studying artist Kenneth Patchen in college helped Tony start drawing. Patchen would mix the text of poems with abstract paintings. Inspired by this method, Tony began doodling while he read poetry.
Tony became more involved with art during his first year as a teacher. He taught a communicative handicapped class and often had the students participate in art projects. Tony noticed the students used art as a way to express themselves and communicate with other people. Several of his students were great at creating art and depended on it to communicate.
The idea to have an exhibit was first proposed by the owner of Café Corazón, Leo. Tony’s first instinct was to reject the idea, but eventually figured it would get him out of his comfort zone.
All the revenue from the art sales will be donated to Hinds Hospice, a charity Tony credits with saving his life. Suffering from grief after his son was stillborn, Tony had trouble leaving the house and only sat behind his desk during work. Angel Babies, a program within Hinds Hospice, provided Tony with several services, such as group counseling and individual counseling. One year later, they welcomed their oldest daughter, Grace. Tony and his wife still keep in touch with Hinds Hospice and attend their events. Hinds Hospice celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
OPINIONS ON FRESNO
Tony likes the diversity of Fresno. “As a teacher, I thrive on diversity,” he says. The downside of living in Fresno, in Tony’s opinion, is the bad air and the poor economy. Tony thinks there is a thriving art community in Fresno, but very few people spend money on art.
ART BY PAPA T
The art show at Cafe Corazon raised $882 for Hinds Hospice! You can still purchase more paintings by Tony Persons during the month of September. The recommended donation per painting is $30.
Have a lovely day in Fresno!