Drive around Lamesa and you'll see beautiful paintings scattered on everything from the Dawson County courthouse to city dumpsters. It's all thanks to some forward thinking and pure talent. Harry Hamlin started off painting a seal free hand in the County Courthouse and that led to a painting of Lady Liberty in the courtroom. His work has since permiated to the outside. County Attorney Steve Payson thought why not have Harry paint murals featuring the history, and natural wonders of Dawson County.
The day we visited Lamesa, we found Harry, an inmate at the Dawson County jail, just down the street from the courthouse. Yes, he was all alone outside, but he tells us, "Well, shoot I love all them (the sheriff and his deputies,) The last thing I would do is hurt any of their feelings and do something stupid.
When we found Harry, he was indeed painting a dumpster! He says, "Here in the past month, I've been in the mood for mountains. I enjoy it. I consider it an honor and a pleasure to do. Better to be lucky than smart." Harry is currently beautifying a variety of dumpsters around town and teaching troubled teens how to do the same. Perhaps because he knows where they're coming from. Payson says, "Harry got into a little recreational drug use and ended up in prison. He's now got a 40 year sentence for a robbery that took place under the influence." Harry adds, "I got addicted to drugs and I hurt a lot of people and I got myself in a lot of trouble."
Harry was arrested in Lamesa for a parole violation in August of last year and his paint brush has been moving ever since. Harry explains, "I decided to be an artist when I was a little kid living over here on North 20th Street. I've always wanted to move back and they captured me last year, so I guess I don't ever want to leave." Payson says, "They're real slow coming to get these guys and well we're not in a big hurry for him to leave."
Harry is making the most of his situation and turning lots of heads in the process. During Lamesa's 100 year anniversary in April, life rewarded him for that. Harry says, "This year my brother showed up. I hadn't seen him in 18 years. I was so glad to see him shoot." Payson says, "He (Harry) made some poor choices in the past, but given the right direction and proper supervision, amazing things can happen."
Harry is currently up for parole and awaiting a decision. He plans to stay in Lamesa for good. He says, "There's a lot of other places in the world that are prettier, but there ain't no place like home." He plans to start a new mural on the south side of the courthouse soon.
|2005 Live Community Coverage Tour|