2009-01-23 / Community

Trim Pays Homage To MLK, Obama Through His Drawings

By Howard Schwach

Bob Trim shows off some of his artwork at The Wave office last week. Bob Trim shows off some of his artwork at The Wave office last week. Bob Trim, now 60 years old, remembers his first foray into the artistic world, even though it was more than 50 years ago.

"I painted the furniture in our home with water paints," he says. "My mother was not too happy, and she almost ended my artistic career right there."

Trim remembers, however, that his father was not equally angry.

"He like drawing," Trim says. "He would take my crayons and we would draw things together."

Trim, who has lived in Rockaway since 1956, first in the Hammel Houses and later in Far Rockaway, stuck to his love for drawing and painting, attending the Columbus College of Art in Ohio and later becoming the assistant art director for the giant WT Grant Company.

And, even though he worked mostly in Ohio, even beginning his own company there, he always was drawn back by Rockaway.

"Once you have sand in your shoes," he said with a laugh, "it never goes away."

Trim told The Wave that he came to Rockaway from Macon, Georgia, when he was about four years old.

At five, he entered PS 44 in Rockaway Beach, a school that once stood where the Peninsula Library stands today.

"I was only at PS 44 for a short time," he says. "Whoever decides those things thought that PS 114 [in Belle Harbor] needed to be desegregated, so they put us on a bus and brought us there," he said, noting that the move seemed not very productive to him and that it was his first brush with racial politics.

"I never had any problems [with race]," Trim says.

In 1965, after the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, he was drawn to depicting political figures such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. "Back in the 60s, I appreciated what King was doing for the country," he says. "I was into the black leaders, King, Malcolm X, but I always liked that King was peaceful and I admired him. Even though I never personally heard him speak, there was a connection."

In 1968, after King was assassinated, the civil rights leader became Trim's favorite subject.

Now retired from what he calls "many jobs, many businesses," Trim has lots of time to pursue his artistic interests, including painting, drawing and woodcarving, especially the walking sticks that he loves to utilize.

Obama, King and South African leader Nelson Mandela. Obama, King and South African leader Nelson Mandela. Over the past few years, he has become similarly enamored with Barak Obama.

He sees Obama's ascendancy to the White House as the culmination of King's legacy.

He now has a considerable collection of artworks he has completed that include both men, sometimes adding Nelson Mandela and other historic black leaders to the mix.

What began with an errant desire to paint the family's furniture has become a life's passion and Trim does not plan to stop any time soon.

Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey are portrayed, above, and Thurgood Marshall is shown below. Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey are portrayed, above, and Thurgood Marshall is shown below.

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