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Trainer at Community Center Looks to Expand Talents as Artist

By Mary Rosenthol March 24, 2014 8:00 am

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MANASSAS, Va. – The room is covered in canvases, some are black and while, while others are vivid splashes of color. Each wall seems to show portraits of a different time period in the artist’s life.

Todd Sprow will be the first to tell you that art is beautiful, but you suffer during the creation of it.

“I love my art, it takes me out of the craziness of today’s society,” Sprow said as he sat among his works and describes a rough childhood in a world not ready to accept a self described young black male artist. “My art expresses everything positive and negative that I’ve been through.”

Sprow, a native of Manassas and a life long resident of Virginia, showed his first signs of talent around age 3. As a youth, Sprow said he studied with well known artists in his mother’s home. And as he got older, Sprow was accepted into the gifted and talented programs in middle and high school.

“Just as I was coming into the gifted and talented program, people decided that it was no longer important to teach fine arts in the school system. So, teachers and counselors kept pushing me to explore more mainstream professions,” Sprow said in an interview at his home. “I was ostracized from my community for being an artist and a black male. It was just not an accepted role for men.”

Sprow grew up with his single mother until age 13, when she married an older white man. He describes his step father as a “Mr. Drummond” from the old television show “Different Strokes;” a nice older guy who really tried to take care of a rebelling teenager during a tough time in life.

And his art work shows the identity struggle he experienced as a youth. The faces of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X., Tupac and Michael Jackson stare down from the walls. A particularly striking painting of Obama in front of a crumbling white house surrounded by donkeys and elephants captures the epitome of a changing culture.

022114 TupacFor the last few years, Sprow has worked at the Manassas Park Community Center splitting his time between personal training and teaching art classes there. He is affectionately known as “Mr. Todd” by the children at the community center and Sprow clearly loves working with them and teaching them how to use art as a form of expression.

Sprow likes his job at the community center but wants to spread his wings as an artist.

“I feel like I have mastered my craft. I love the kids, but ‘Mr. Todd’ is getting old,” Sprow said. “I want to showcase my talent. I want to live a little.”

Sprow will showcase his talent. On Saturday night, from 4-8 p.m. Sprow will invite members of the community to take a look at a personal exhibit in the lobby of his apartment building the Residences at City Center 170 Market Street in Manassas Park. Sprow says some of his favorite works will be up for sale. For more information on the show send an e-mail to tmsartist.com

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