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Muralist has one-man exhibit at Manteca council chambers
Manteca artist Jessie Marinas talks about his art in front of his work that is on display in the council chambers at the Manteca Civic Center. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Since his painting, “The Harvest Continues,” won first place in the 2007 Mural Society of California Mural Symposium held in Manteca, Jessie Marinas’ gigantic masterpiece has won seven prestigious prizes throughout the United States.

They include four Best of Shows, two first prizes and one second place.

The original, of course, now belongs to the City of Manteca and is currently hanging, along with the other mural winners, in the Manteca Senior Center. But it was Marinas’ original acrylic mural that inspired the quilt version that was featured in the 30th anniversary Manteca Quilters annual Show and Sale this past spring. It was this quilt version that has won the seven awards – to date – and may collect even more prizes as the quilt continues to be shown in other show venues that may include Australia and Japan. The picture also was featured on the cover of the International Machine Quilter Association’s summer 2009 edition.

A canvas print of this mural is one of the nine large paintings that make up Marinas’ first one-man exhibit in the Council Chambers at Manteca City Hall which opened Monday and will run through January 2010. The show is open to the public during regular business hours at City Hall Monday to Friday. Each of the paintings, including the print, is for sale as is every art work by various local artists that hangs at this venue.

One of the hanging pieces, “Bubble Girl,” was the first prize winner at the Delicato Vineyards’ popular annual fine arts show this year in January. The little girl in the oil painting is his granddaughter playing with her puppy which he envisioned and not posed. Another painting he entered at the same Delicato art competition, “Decision,” which shows two women walking, won a white ribbon.

One of the paintings is a representative of Marinas’ latest artistic style in which he uses ordinary household nails to create masterpieces instead of the usual paintbrush or palette knife. It’s a style that he said was divinely inspired when he was “praying” for artistic direction after a four-decade drought of inspiration during which time he applied his artistic talents to an engineering job in the Bay Area that he had to take to provide for his wife Aida and their six children. The answer to his prayer resulted in the near-mural-size oil version of the meeting of Jesus and his mother Mary on his way to Calvary. The inaugural public showing of this painting titled “The Passion of Christ,” took place last spring during the grand opening of The Framery on West Yosemite Avenue. The Framery, owned by former Ripon mayor Curt Pernice and wife Bianca, now has a new location on North Main Street across from the FESM Hall where some of Marinas’ works are still hanging.

Unfortunately, the “Passion of Christ” is one of two paintings by Marinas that could not be included in his exhibit at City Hall because of their religious themes in keeping with the separation of church and state. The other painting not included is Marinas’ tribute to America’s brave soldiers, “Heart of America.” The painting shows a group of soldiers – including two females – wearing different military uniforms, huddled together in prayer with one of them holding a Bible.

The inspiration of this painting, said Marinas, were the two sons of former officemates in the Bay Area who were killed during the Desert Storm operation in Iraq.

“I e-mailed (the picture) to my friends and they had it made into T-shirts,” he said.

He painted the life-sized oil painting “to honor them in my own way,” Marinas simply explained.