Chris has dedicated his life to giving back to his community and his friends through the talents he was blessed with. If you look closely at his work you will find symbols of the many things he cares about. There have been key moments that have not only affected his decisions but defined his life.
Adventures with Nolan
In 2006 Nolan Hunter Johnson, Grandson of my dear Friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had his first Cancer Surgery to remove his left lower leg. Nolan Hunter Johnson left this earth in 2010 after three major Cancer Surgeries, two days before his 6th Birthday. He wanted to be “Shark Boy” the last two weeks of his life on this earth. So, with the drawing that Nolan drew, I came up with the Design of “Nolan as Shark Boy.” My Friends Son Eric Johnson, Nolan’s Father, left this earth in 2014 after battling Metastatic Melanoma Cancer. So, I dedicated the Viking at Airline High School, “Eric the Warrior” on the right of my Wall Art Project in 2014 to a “Great Warrior” and my Best friends Son!
The adventures with Nolan have created sustained memories for Chris. He painted this Chicken Little Mural in Nolan’s room. After Chris left, Nolan asked, “When is Chris coming back? He forgot to paint the eyebrows on the Martians.” Chris came back later and added the eyebrows for Nolan.
Kristyn Hears The World
The College Hill Sixth Grade Academy Project in Texarkana, Arkansas was a special project for Chris, especially when he met a young girl, Kristyn, at the school who was deaf. Chris has lost over half of his hearing over the years and wears hearing aids to help him hear. One day, he put one of his hearing aids into Kristyn’s ear and she said she could hear better. He realized then that she had some hearing. Chris contacted a friend back home in Louisiana, Sammy San Angelo who owns Audibel Hearing Aid Company in Shreveport. Sammy enthusiastically stepped up and gave Kristyn a hearing test and learned she has partial hearing in one ear. Sammy gave Kristyn a hearing aid at no charge. Kristyn can now hear the “World” with one hearing aid! Art is a catalyst that opens the doors for Chris to connect with the community and give back in big ways. Learn more about the College Hill Project – click here.
Chris was able to give back even more in the Texarkana project, when he donated his time and materials to engag 100 kids, 20 painting at a time, 5 sessions a day for 3 days showing the kids how to paint on a wall. This project is called PRIDE and is part of the 8th Annual Pride Academy held by the Texarkana Police. PRIDE stands for Personal Responsibility in Daily Effort. The project gave students the opportunity to show their PRIDE in their school by designing, drawing and painting areas they wanted to highlight in their school. The students worked hard and were very proud of their accomplishments!
A Heart for Veterans
Chris met Dolores Barbee in 2016 after completing a project at a local school. Their conversation moved him to Give Back to some military veterans in a very heartfelt way. Dolores shares, “My name is Dolores Barbee, I am the founder and director of A Soldiers Heart – an American Legend with Veterans for Veterans. This is a volunteer group helping our wounded and homeless Veterans. I also work as a school bus driver for Bossier Parish School Board and this is how I became to know Chris Opp, the Artistic Shark. Mr. Opp was painting a mural on the building of the middle school and every day for about a week I would pull into the school and I watch Mr. Opp painting and then one day he was gone and this beautiful flag and eagle were left. I was amazed. The mural said it all. I had been looking for an artist to do a couple paintings for me and then and there knew God had opened a door. There are two of our Veterans who have Traumatic Brain Injury. They were never given a Purple Heart as they didn’t shed a drop of blood, this is per the government’s qualification to receive one. I contacted Mr. Opp and explained my idea to him and what I wanted. One of these Veterans ended his career after 12 years due to TBI received in combat in Afghanistan and the other had served several times in Afghanistan. A couple of days after coming home from the effects of TBI, he was killed by a drunk driver as he was walking home from a friend’s house. I asked Mr. Opp to paint the flag as it flew with the picture of the Purple Heart on it. I knew this was not an official medal, yet I wanted the families to know we were humbled by these men and their dedication to all Americans. I felt it was wrong of the government to turn their backs on them. Did they not realize that they may not have shed a drop of blood on the outside but the damage to them on the inside was crushing and mentally changing.
A couple of weeks after talking with Mr. Opp I went to see the paintings. His design and talent took my breath away. I never thought what I was seeing in my mind would ever be caught on canvas yet here it was. When you hear someone say a picture is worth a million words, believe me there weren’t enough words. Mr. Opp also donated these paintings to the families of these Veterans. There is never going to be enough words or ways to thank Mr. Opp, except to now that what his design has done is say all the words to these families and Veterans we could never express. Mr. Opp has humbled all of us and we are so blessed to have found him.”
Giving Back with Friends
Working with Justin Haigler, pastor of The Simple Church in Shreveport, LA, on projects that give back to the community has been a great joy for Chris. Here are photos of a project that they did together at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City, LA.
Tinkering With Art
Chris has done numerous projects at The Simple Church as part of giving back to his community. One of his favorites was this Tinker Toy Set in December, 2014.
Love Your City
“Love Your City” is the focus of The Hub Ministry in downtown Shreveport on Cotton Street. Chris did this mural for them to help support spread their mission to give every person in our city access to a restored life.