Micah Wesley and his father, Tillier, didn’t have the Hollywood version of a father-son relationship.

“We didn’t do the fishing trips, and we weren’t very vocal about our emotions,” Wesley says.

But that doesn’t mean the two weren’t close. A shared passion bonded them deeply.

“We really talked to each other through our art,” he says. “It was a common ground for us, and it allowed us to open up about how we felt about certain things.”

Wesley says he really got to know his father by just looking at what he painted because it always reflected his thoughts and feelings.

“If you look at my dad’s work, you can see themes of his Native American heritage and his spirituality,” Wesley says. “Many people say there’s no hope in the world, but my dad always managed to see hope because he was so spiritual.”

Wesley says his father remained an optimist, even in his last days of life before losing a lengthy battle to cancer. Since his father’s death last February, he has gained a new appreciation for the paintings his father left behind.

“Even as I look at his paintings today, they still have a lingering effect, and I’m still learning about him through his work, even though he’s gone,” he says.

Wesley says there’s no doubt his father has greatly influenced the person and artist that he’s become.

“My dad’s art was always more than just something to hang on a wall because it had meaning behind it,” he says. “And although my work is really different from my dad’s, it’s also a piece of me because I also think art should be more about statements, not being decorative.”

Now, for the first time, both men’s art will be shown together at a Native Arts Center and Gallery show.

Wesley says having his work hung next to his father’s is a humbling experience.

“I don’t think my art is anywhere near as good as my dad’s, but it’s still a very cool feeling to be doing this,” he says. “It just feels good to know our work will be shown together.”

The show is being held in honor of National Native American Heritage month.

Lisa Daniels, a gallery manager, says showing the work of a Native American father and son is the perfect way to honor Native American heritage.

“What a better way to celebrate Native American culture and art than to show the works of two generations in a Native American family?” she asks. “Micah has told me that he didn’t realize how much he learned from his father until after he passed away. Their art is very different, so it will be interesting to see what Micah has taken from his father’s art and what direction he’s taken it in to make it his own.”

Christa Diepenbrock, another gallery manager, says the show holds cultural significance for all.

“Regardless of your ethnic background, exploring different cultural traditions is important,” she says. “We’re committed to giving North Dallas residents access to the ethnic diversity that American Indians bring to our community, and we hope they’ll take advantage of that.”

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