When Joseph Madeiros was growing up on the island of Bermuda, he would watch in wonder as Bermudians gathered outdoors for their traditional Easter celebration, flying handmade brightly-colored kites that soared up into the sky. By age 10, Madeiros was making his own kites.
These days, Madeiros, 85, is retired and living with his daughter in Willards, Md. under the home care of Coastal Hospice since July. He has a spring in his step and an enthusiasm for life and is still using his hands to create the beautiful kite folk art of Bermuda.
To celebrate his craft, the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th St. in the resort held a special exhibition of Madeiros’ kites on Sept. 2 as part of their monthly art opening. The public was invited to the free opening reception, and many close to Madeiros — family, golf buddies, church members and former co-workers — came to celebrate with him.
Coastal Hospice arranged the exhibition as part of their “One More Time” program.
“Affirming life is part of our values,” said Alane Capen, president of Coastal Hospice. “We believe human life has inherent dignity and is worthy of celebration. We hope our patients will live life to its fullest.”
Madeiros makes the traditional Bermuda kites in octagonal shapes, creating an art form that is also very airworthy, holding world records for altitude and duration of flight. The kite maker starts with lightweight flat sticks arrayed like spokes of a wheel, then adds string and brightly colored or black-and-white tissue paper arranged in geometric patterns.
On Good Friday 2016, Madeiros won the Bookhammer Award at the Great Delaware Kite Festival in Lewes, De. — an event he and his family have attended for years — for best all-around kite. He was also the oldest person flying kites to participate.
Madeiros came to the United States from Hamilton, Bermuda in 1968 and spent most of his life as a chemical operator at Reichhold Chemical in Dover, De. But his passions were always his wife, three children, kites and golf. He still plays nine holes once or twice a week since he’s doing well under the care of Coastal Hospice.
And he still makes kites. The home he shares with daughter, Jonelle Jones, is filled with the colorful designs.
Madeiros loves showing his kites to visitors and talking about how he crafts them. His exhibition at the Arts Center was an opportunity for him to continue to do what he loves best.