Shackelford

Shackelford’s works, including the painting of Cheese Park on the far left, in the exhibition “To Be Young” at the Publick Playhouse. (Photo by Micha Green)

Jordan Shacklefold, a Prince George’s County artist, explores life as a child in his recent collection of paintings of local parks in Cheverly, Maryland. The exhibit, titled “To Be Young” shows the small Maryland town of about 5,699 through youthful eyes.

Shackelford’s collection is currently being featured at Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Road, until Jan. 9, 2016. A public reception will be held on Dec. 5 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. The series of paintings feature his first piece on Gast “Cheese” Park, a local favorite, named for the large block of cheese located inside the park.

“Painting Cheese Park felt like I was at the right place at the right time,” he said. “I didn’t think I had the talent, but after painting outside for a little bit, I realized it was a lot of fun, and I was pretty good at it.”

From the feedback he received on his painting, he decided to paint anything that was important to him from his childhood, which inspired the title of the series, “To Be Young.” He started work on the exhibition in 2012.

Shackelford said he wanted to showcase how he remembered some of his favorite childhood places. “A lot of the park paintings were from imagination,” he said. “But if you notice, every single painting is done with a fall theme, because I feel like that’s Cheverly at its most beautiful.”

One of his larger paintings is of Tuxedo Park, his favorite park, because it reminds him of fun times playing in the park with his six siblings.

An art teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Shackelford works hard to make art fun for the students. His philosophy has proved successful; The school was named “the school of murals” after an 87-foot long painting of murals by students went up.

Shackelford also works for the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation, where he created an Art of Nature Boat Tour, which takes guests on guided tours along the Anacostia River and then allows them to express themselves through illustrating what they see.

“Most people’s work takes the fun out of art. I try to focus on the good thoughts and memories,” he said.