“Be careful what you wish for” is usually used as a caution. In the case of Quanniel Basom and Kendell McLauglin, their wish turned into a happy dream come true. Carlos Mateu is an Artist-Teacher with the Joan Mitchell Foundation helps guide an afterschool art program at Cooper Park Community Center in partnership with St. Nicks Alliance. Carlos Mateu was leading the class when he spotted students sitting and drawing calmly on the floor. He asked Quinniel Basom and Kendell McLauglin if they were drawing self-portraits, which spurred a talk about portraits. He then showed them the recent portrait he painted of his son for his birthday. “They were very impressed and Quinniel asked, ‘Did you make your son happy with that painting?’ I said –‘Yes’.”
Then Quinniel said, “I would like it if someone painted a portrait for me some day.”
Carlos Mateau recalled, “I could not forget that expression of sadness. Immediately I shared the idea of painting two portraits: one for Kendell and one for Quinniel, with my co teacher Anne, fellow Roberto, and my director Travis.”
On the last day of class Kendell and Quinniel came to say goodbye to their artist-teachers. The teachers took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of everyone together, so Carlos could use these pictures as a reference for their portraits. He worked on the paintings at home during his free time. The portraits were completed in June but it wasn’t until mid-October that Carlos had the chance to present them to the boys at Cooper Park Community Center.
Frederick Adutu, St. Nicks Alliance Program Director for Cooper Park Community Center, said, “What this man did for our participants really touched my heart. I would just like to shout out Carlos Mateu from JMF for the amazing work and dedication he showed to the participants at Cooper Park Community Center. It is just an amazing story of someone who cares greatly for the youth and uses his creative talents to give back to Cooper Park Community Center.”
“Everybody was expecting something simple, small but I couldn’t control myself,” said Carlos. “I believe that these students were needing this kind of attention more than the others.” In addition he said, “I just want to thank JMF for being my guide and for placing their trust in me to do this job. The students at the Community Center deserve that and much more and I am open to help anytime.”