Former Summit County inmate turns a new leaf through painting

Sep 17, 2022, 6:20 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2022, 11:47 am

OGDEN, Utah — Rain has a way of changing plans, but for a former Summit County inmate, the show goes on.

Matt Henderson had a lot in mind for his outdoor art show in Ogden until it started pouring.

“We were going to have chalk art and a little festival going on,” Henderson said.

He still decided to go forward with what he could with barbeque, crafts, and music.

“I mean, we’re here for a reason,” he said.

After what he’s been through, no way was a little rain going to stop him.

“Yeah, 23 years. I was 17 when I got sent to max. It was burglary, theft and forgery,” Henderson explained. “The burglary, theft, and forgery were due to my drug use.”

Henderson has spent most of his adult life in and out of jail. However, it was there where he learned about art.

“I bought every book I could find. I’ve learned this on my own,” he said.

Henderson did some paintings while he was an inmate in the Summit County Jail earlier this year. He was surprised when the people outside of prison said he was pretty good.

“A lot of people started really focusing on, ‘Hey look, something is here.’ I haven’t been able to realize that until recently,” he recalled.

Now that he’s out, Henderson found people are willing to pay him for his work.

Henderson draws and paints as often as he can while working full-time and being a husband and father. He’s hoping his story will inspire others, especially those still in jail, there is always hope.

“We have so many people revolving and coming back and coming back, and it sucks. It sucks,” Henderson said. “If these guys see that there’s a way to come back, man, let me be the example. Let me show them. You know, that’s what I want.”

Garry Walker used to visit Henderson while he was in jail. He worked with him and spoke with him to help him find a better life.

“(Henderson) is really special. He has a gentle heart and is a very kind and loving person. He had such an impact on the inmates at the jail. Changed the nature of it. It can be depressing in there, but he made it light and airy,” Walker said.

Some of his former cellmates also came to his show Saturday morning and afternoon in an Ogden parking. They are proud of what he has become.

“He has always been a good dude, but it’s good now to see the transition,” said Ryan Evans, who spent time in jail with Henderson.

It’s the kind of transition Henderson never thought was possible until he did it.

“My dream is becoming a reality now. I love life, I love God, and I love everything about this world now,” Henderson said.

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Former Summit County inmate turns a new leaf through painting