A few years ago, the one thing that people knew about Easton native Shelton Hawkins was his passion for basketball. Growing up as a star player at his prep school in Virginia and his college in Texas, and then returning to the Mid-Shore to local coach teams at Saints Peter and Paul High School and UM- Eastern Shore, Sheldon has spent a good bit of his adult life known as the “basketball guy.”
And while he has not let up on that passion, Hawkins has made a remarkable journey in using art to connect basketball as well as his other interests.
By day, he makes a somewhat long commute to St. Charles High School in Charles County to teach art, but when he returns to Easton in the evening, and throughout the weekend, he takes refuge in the yet to be restored Carstairs Row houses on Washington Street with several projects in the works.
The first has been his extraordinary use of outdoor basketball courts as a willing canvas for his murals. Starting in Easton at Idlewild Park, Shelton uses the court surface to reflect the community with his joyful application of color. And over time, his work on basketball courts has become an international one, with examples of his work found in New York, Ohio (a LeBron James school) and a commission for a court at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo that sadly bit the dust with the arrival of COVID-19.
The second is the serendipitous use of his favorite basketball sneakers as another unexpected canvas. As Shelton worked on his other projects in his studio, he realized that the accidental application of colors hitting his shoes made an exciting impression.
The third is more historical by preserving the culture and meaning of the now-dated VHS cassette tapes and their movie titles. Shelton uses these symbols of the 1980s and 90s as an appropriate vehicle to celebrate childhood memories and family trips to Blockbuster Video stores.His work on this project will take him to the last remaining Blockbuster in Oregon later this month to document that space for his future work.
Coming in next is Hawkins’s new extension into filmmaking. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter creation in downtown Cambridge, he has just completed an eight-minute mini-documentary that captures its enduring impact on residents well after its popular installation last year. It is appropriately titled “When the Paint Dries” and recently debuted in Dorchester County in July.
And his final project, and his most personal, is his collaboration with his daughter, Parker, aged three. Together they have worked on portraits and other paintings with unique roles. Parker is the first to begin the work, and it is her job to provide the background colors for the images. Dad finishes the work, but in between the beginning and the end, father and daughter can have lengthy discussions about the use of color and subjects in the start of a lifelong partnership.
This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Shelton Hawkins artwork please go here.