PBS show to feature Oneonta man

ContributedOneonta resident David Hayes, left, is interviewed by PBS television host Matt Paxton in this undated photo.

An Oneonta man will appear on a national television show in February, exploring the secrets of his famous father's art collection.

David Hayes Jr. will speak about searching through the estate of his late father, American sculptor David Hayes Sr., in the PBS show, "Legacy List with Matt Paxton."

"The thing we are really excited about, is this is a national show that will be seen on hundreds of PBS stations across the country," Hayes told The Daily Star on Friday, Jan. 22. "This is a great way to spread my father's legacy." 

Hayes, who is the president of the David Hayes Art Foundation, said he recorded the segment in September at his father's estate in Coventry, Connecticut, which is now a 57-acre outdoor museum that is open to the public.

The show uncovered some amazing finds, including a hidden room that may have been part of the Underground Railroad.

Paxton, who co-hosted the show "Hoarders," told The Hartford Courant* that finds like the one at the Hayes property are why he wanted to do the new show. 

“On ‘Hoarders,’ the stories were sad," he told The Courant. "I wanted to show the aging population of America and all of their cool stories. It’s the stories that hold us back from downsizing, seeing the dining room, all the memories in it. If you take time to hear the stories, you’re able to let go of the stuff.”

The show will also look at pieces of art from Hayes' collection, including a print from Salvador Dali and art by Pablo Picasso. 

"My parents both collected," Hayes said. "We lived in France the entire decade of the 1960s, and while we were there, my parents collected a lot of art. My parents lived an expatriate life for a while.

"I was aware of the Picasso," he continued. "I was not aware of the Dali." 

Hayes said he cannot prove that the hidden room was used to shelter runaway slaves. There is not documentation of a route through that part of Connecticut. But the room is small, disguised and adjacent to the chimney, providing a warm, hidden place. 

Hayes said the show producers did research into the finds and the show will answer some of the mysteries about them. 

However, for all the wonders of his father's estate, Hayes said, it was a T-shirt that brought him television tears. 

The show producers unearthed a shirt from an auto company, Moriarty Brothers, in Manchester, Connecticut. 

"That was my dad's first job," Hayes said. "Moriarty Brothers was an auto dealership and my mom was the daughter of one of the owners. Without that job, there probably would have been no me."

The show will air at 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, on PBS stations and platforms. 

Hayes said he hopes it will help spread the legacy of his father, who died in 2013. 

"I am just absolutely thrilled," he said. "This is a big deal for us."  

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

*Changed at 6:25 p.m. Jan. 24 to correct the spelling of the newspaper's name.

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