manigroup

57 years old
New York City
650 Points

My Bio

I can remember my first mentor Oraston Brooks, he was an exceptional studio artist. For several years, he worked as an illustrator and comp artist for various advertising agencies in New York City. When he visited, we would briefly discuss our common interest as artist, and he'd always encourage me to develop my drawing skills. Oraston wasn’t always readily available, but the times we shared discussing art were greatly appreciated.

Several years passed, when I learned that Oraston had suddenly passed away. My Aunt, who was a very good friend of his, and I attended the funeral service. There I met his nephew and had the opportunity to talk to him about my relationship with his uncle, and his impact on my life. I told him how, I vividly remembered meeting him in the early 1960’s. At that time, Oraston was dating my Aunt, and whenever he would visit he'd always take the time to acknowledge me as a fellow artist. One day, after several requests he sat with me, and created a pencil sketch of one of my favorite heroes, Hercules in chains.

I was eight-years-old and in the third grade at the time. That-single act of kindness and kinship, had a greater impact on my life and career, than my education at both Art & Design High School, and Pratt Institute. And also my thirty-plus-year career as an artist, designer, mentor and educator, simply because it made it all possible. He acknowledged and validated my talent, when others did so in passing. Most saw my ability to draw as a hobby, but he showed me that it was a beautiful gift from God, and for that I am forever in his debt.

In honor of my experience with Mr. Brooks, and all those who encouraged me, I'm presently pursuing my MFA in studio art (oil painting and drawing), and CUNY Lehman College, in the Bronx.