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For artist, faith & pain go together

Jessie Marinas creator of Manteca’s newest mural

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For artist, faith & pain go together

Manteca artist Jessie Marinas, right, is congratulated by Army veteran and East Union High JROTC instructor Karl Knutson during the dedication of the Eaglehearts mural on Veterans Day

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED November 13, 2013 1:00 a.m.

By ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The Bulletin

For Jessie Marinas, “faith and pain go together.”

They are the driving force and the inspiration behind his major paintings such as the 20x60-foot acrylic Eaglehearts painting that was dedicated and officially unveiled on Monday by the Manteca Mural Society on Veterans Day. The pain that he experiences is a melding of the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense.

Eaglehearts, for example, was born out of the deep emotional pain he felt for a close friend who lost his son in Afghanistan. At a loss for words of comfort to say to his grieving friend, Marinas let his canvas and brush and oils do the talking – literally, heart to heart. He drew the eight soldiers in the painting huddled together shoulder to shoulder in prayer with their heads bowed down in the shape of a heart “because it’s a beating heart; it’s the beating heart of America,” explained the retired commercial designer.

The painting became a “bereavement card” which he sent to his grieving friend.

When it came time for him to paint the mural version of Eaglehearts, it was extreme physical pain which accompanied his eight months of labor. For many years, Marinas has been dogged by severe back pain due to a degenerative disease and a car accident years ago. In 2000, doctors operated on his back where they inserted eight metal pins to help ease the pain. But the pain never went away. Still, Marinas persisted using that physical challenge as his artistic inspiration.

He painted the giant mural in eight separate panels, working at his home in Manteca.

“I did the painting piece by piece. That’s the only way I could do it because of my back. That’s why it took me eight months to finish it,” said the father of four and grandfather of four who graduated from the pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a degree in fine arts and a concentration in painting. “I only painted when I was feeling good.”

It was that same severe back pain, coupled by his strong and unfaltering Christian faith, which propelled him to create his tour de force painting of The Passion of Christ several years ago. In his physical suffering, he prayed and asked God to help him so that he could paint again despite the pain, even standing if he had to. The miracle he hoped for came in the form of an inspiration to do The Passion of Christ by using not a paintbrush but a nail to scrape the oil images on canvas. It was Christ’s nailing on the cross which gave him the inspiration to paint the picture – one that is reminiscent of the scene in the Stations of the Cross where Christ meets his mother – with the rough texture the nail created as representative of the pain and suffering of Christ as well as his own. This painting later won Marinas top honors at various competitions in Canada and the United States.

“I’m inspired to paint when something in me is hurting, because tomorrow may be too late for me. And that’s where I get my inspiration,” he said trying to convey the fatalistic feeling that always drives him to create his works of art.

He also has a penchant for using his own face and hands in some of the human elements of his paintings. This is the case in The Harvest Continues mural which won first place in the 2007 competition sponsored by the Manteca Mural Society. The faces of the grape pickers in the painting, which now hangs in the Manteca Senior Center, were all modeled after his own image.

The same is true in his Eaglehearts painting. The six male and two female soldiers in the picture, while they are representative of various ethnic origins, were based on his own visage. And the hand of one of the soldiers placed on the shoulder of the one to his left was modeled after Marinas’ own hand.

One bit of trivia in the Eaglehearts image. In the original painting, that hand on the soldier’s shoulder is holding a black book with the word Bible on it. When he had his one-man show in the council chambers at City Hall in Manteca, that painting was not included because of the Bible. The same thing happened when he was commissioned to do the mural. To be considered, Marinas had to agree to have the Bible removed from the picture.

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