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Marinas earns Hall of Fame art nod

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Marinas earns Hall of Fame art nod

Jessie Marinas with his portrait of Elton John.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED April 13, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Jessie Marinas - a man who found strength in his “artistic soul” after a series of spinal injuries triggered a number of painful surgeries - is being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.

The dinner and induction ceremonies for the Hall of Fame take place Saturday, May 14, at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. Tickets are $40 apiece and available at the Manteca Boys & Girls Club, 545 Alameda St., or by calling 239-KIDS.

Other members of the Class of 2011 are William A. Jones, education; Donald Widmer, athletics; Jack Kelley, at large; Don I. Asher, government; Margo Young, health care; Norman Knodt, business; Kathryn Aartman-Weed, community service; and Leo Omlin, agriculture.

Marinas is being inducted for art.

All his life, Marinas had one aspiration – to be a painter. In fact, he majored in painting at the pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, where he received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts. But he was also the oldest of 12 children, which presented him with a great dilemma soon after graduating from college. As the oldest child, he was expected to help his parents take care of his younger siblings. On top of that, he also had a wife and two children to feed. He came to America in 1973 in search of a better life. He found a job with an engineering company in the Bay Area. He was paid enough to comfortably support his wife and four children. But the long hours at work, on top of raising a family, left no time to pursue the arts. Ironically, it was the pain from a severe spinal injury that gave him what he called his “rebirth.”

After his “fourth or fifth” operation six years ago, and despite the excruciating pain, he started painting again. Around the time he picked up his brush for the first time in decades, Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” was also being shown worldwide. A devout Catholic, Marinas found his artistic vision in the suffering of Christ. Still he didn’t know where he was going with the art he was trying to create.

That’s when he heard an inner voice telling him, “Why don’t you use nails instead of brush?”  So he picked up a piece of nail and used that as his brush.

In an interview three years ago Marinas said, “I was able to feel the pain of Christ. That’s why when you touch my painting, you’ll feel the nails. I said to God, ‘you were right.’ And he said, ‘I told you, just believe in me,’.”

He used different sizes of ordinary household nails to paint the four-foot-square oil painting which captures the meeting of the bloodied Jesus and his mother after he falls from the weight of the cross on his way to Calvary. For the fine lines, he sharpened nails. Then he sanded them for the bigger strokes.

Marinas has earned numerous accolades for his work. He won first place at the 2007 Mural Society of California Mural Symposium held in Manteca. And he was selected Asian Artist of the Year by the Asian Journal published in the Bay Area plus has won a number of show awards.

His winning five-foot by eight-foot mural piece titled “Harvest Continues” is currently on display at the Manteca Senior Center.

A bit of trivia about “Harvest Continues” which shows farm workers picking grapes in a vineyard: All of the people depicted in the painting, including the women, are images of Marinas himself. The only exception is that of the foreman. For his model, he used Manteca farmer John Leonard. Toni Raymus, who nominated Marinas, noted that “Jessie is an excellent representative of the talent and dedication to art that we want for our community.”
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