El Brish - 2018
Acrylic on canvas
18" x 30"
1985! Shortly after landing in Newark Airport and finally reuniting with our mother after three traumatic years, we arrived in NYC via the GW Bridge. We were immediately informed (and reminded from there on-every time we crossed it), that it was the bridge where Johnny Weissmuller (AKA Tarzan) had performed his famous dive. Later in life I found out it was actually the Brooklyn Bridge Johnny had jumped from. But Hollywood wasn't across that bridge back then and the Charles Bronson's Death Wish set could never recreate what parts of the our new neighborhood looked like. We had escaped a war zone and had arrived to a different type of war zone. But it was America, people were different and had swagger. It was loud and despite their struggles, people were literally dancing on the street. There was a new kind of warmth; it was all beautiful and we were all survivors after a dream.
El Brish - 2018
It was about 21 years ago on a gray day like today; when in the middle of a 9-5 workday I cracked. I had started my week, once again experiencing something I didn't know I suffered from all my life. It was called depression. This day was different though. It all felt so heavy and dark and out of nowhere I cracked and was flooded with the most horrific intrusive thoughts and memories. At the time I was an aspiring actor/musician. I had a one act play in a show in Lincoln Center, had been offered a role in a stage play and was collaborating with a producer in making music and writing songs for bands. But my mind seemed to have other plans. It pulled the floor from under me, threw me into what felt like a dark emotional abyss and began to show me things I didn't understand, accepted or believed could have happened to me as a child. I walked away from it all without notice or an explanation to anybody. I continued to work pretending I was okay and heading right back home to hide from the world though I could not hide from the demons that had suddenly appeared as the worst imaginary friends. My culture, belief system and upbringing kept me from seeking help for two years. I remember walking out of waiting rooms after making appointments to see therapists. But in the middle of this darkness I decided to pick up a drawing pad and watercolors. Since the beginning of my career as a professional artist I was careful not to talk about any of this, because I did not want to use art as a crutch nor fit some mold or stereotype. As I got good, I also wanted to follow the path and prove myself as a legitimate artist. I often say I'm an artist despite my neurosis and not because of it.
However, I do believe it was the catalyst to discover that I was born to make art. Creativity finds a way even when you hide under a rock. Art and reading about other artists’ lives led me to therapy. Through counseling I was able to learn about myself, my life and most importantly, get to the root of my anger and the self destructive tendencies that plagued me since I was a child. It helped me understand that I wasn't a soft crybaby, but that people didn't recognize that I suffered from depression and had been a victim of abuse since an early age. That guy that cracked back '97, would have never imagined getting out of that dark hole nor the life and people that surround him today. Life didn't always get easier, there have been many tests since. I still experience great emotional lows and a get flooded with bad memories. But taking action in healing brings more healing and strength. In the toughest moments, having access and the perspective of a mental health professional has been crucial in my experience. It taught me compassion for myself and others, including members of my family who I’m convinced struggled in the same way and never got help. It also gave me license to explore and work on anything I feel through my art. I think I'm sharing this openly today, because it's the one step in my healing journey that I have not taken. It feels both scary and like a pat on the back for how hard I work at it each day.
So if you're out there and feel that you need to talk to someone, don't be afraid. If think it’s mild and you can manage it, believe me, it will grow and hurt you. There's no shame in seeking help and treatment. The most powerful step you can ever take is admitting you can't do it alone. And you don't have to.
For info on getting help:
The "Free Drawings Project” is taking flight. It is based on a series of palette knife sketches on peace I’ve been experimenting with since 2016. As it happened with the peace boxes project, educators are the ones already responding and collaborating in order to bring them into the classroom. Some have shared their concern as educators for finding tools to promote empathy in their chavalitos. So I had to find a way to continue to make art easily accessible as a catalyst for much needed empathy. Let’s see how far this Pax bird goes.
Perhaps in art sometimes you need the setbacks, negative discouraging words, the fears and the criticism that emerges around your self-expression – In order to have something to be brave about. I’m amazed how much I continue to grow and learn a lot about myself through art-making.
I've been afraid of and failed at many things in life; but in art I just go for it, from the gut.
When making art I'm pretty fearless, and every work resolved is a personal success.
I am an artist. I did not choose to be an artist, and there's no doubt in my mind that art chose me, or perhaps life chose art for me; because I was damaged enough for it.
Life might have steered me into this creative path is because life knew, that unlike any other undertaking in my life, in art I would be fearless.
I'm most honored and grateful to be growing old as an artist. I make no apologies for it.
The Free Drawings Project
Continuing his mission to promote peace, hope and understanding through art, Franck de las Mercedes has launched a new art project in which he intends to share art and a positive message with anybody, anywhere in the world, this time through a free drawing.
The "Free Drawings" project intends to create artwork that is inclusive and accessible to all, in an effort to bring awareness to the importance of art in people's lives as a catalyst for empathy and dialogue.
Each piece is an original palette knife drawing signed by the artist and completely free.
One person can receive a free drawing by covering their own S&H (shipping materials and postage).
Thank You! Open Studio
Thanks to all who visited my open studio! Always great to meet new people and greet friends and patrons. The new series was even featured in a cool art and travel blog. Here's the latest from the series entitled "Four Eves"
The Annual Summer Open Studio Online. For my loyal patrons and collectors. It's that time of year! Click the image below.
Talk to you soon!
Do you know how to find it?
Do you know how to be?
Have you seen all the lightning
blaze the forbidden tree?
All the people seem happy
cause they're coming to see,
a show made out of nothing
from a good family.
And the burn keeps on burning
behind the Weehawken rain.
A new lesson I'm learning,
but I'm feeling no pain.
© 2002 Franck de las Mercedes
Momento en el cual ya nada importa.
Instante en el que se resigna el ser.
Pausa y paz,
ni mortal, ni objeto.
Tu espíritu se desemboca sobre la inmensidad de un segundo nítido;
convirtiéndote dócilmente en el principio de un comienzo.
© Franck de las Mercedes 1999
This week on CBS "Sunday Morning"
Spring is in full bloom, and in New York that means pianos are popping up like wildflowers. Tune in to CBS Sunday Morning, June 3rd at 9am EST to see the life cycle of a Sing for Hope Piano and participating artists. Check your local listings. Open Studio
WHAT: FdlM Presents "Urbetivism"
WHEN: Saturday, June 16th, 1-6 PM
WHERE: FdlM Art Studio
330 Wadsworth Avenue #3G
New York, NY 10040
Franck will be exhibiting the Urbetivism paintings for the first time at his open studio during "The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance's 16th annual Uptown Arts Stroll", which takes place every summer in the neighborhoods of Washington Heights. Inwood and West Harlem, NYC. The art stroll showcases the painters, photographers, writers, musicians, sculptors, actors, dancers and filmmakers in Northern Manhattan from May 30 to June 30, 2018.