The only biography preview until the exhibition August 5th @ Venice Arts
Grew up on Washington Way, Venice, CA
“Not Just Me Anymore”
acrylic on canvas
36 x 36” 2016
by Ruth Chase
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“Sobriety meant nothing until I had my kids. My biggest fear was of them growing up without their daddy. It was then that I realized my actions would affect their lives too. My kids are everything to me and so is my sobriety” – Fernando Manzanilla
My whole family is Mexican. My mom, dad, sister and brother – they were all born in Mexico: I’m the youngest and the only one born in the United States, actually in NY.
When I was 2, we moved to L.A. where the 405 FWY ran through our backyard. Because it gave my mom and I asthma, my parents moved us to a small apartment in Venice when I was about 5 years old.
I started smoking weed in the fourth grade, which led to drinking, then to drugs. Venice was the land of opportunity if you wanted to find trouble. I seemed to be good at that. I got in a lot of fights at bars and parties, and I never ever backed down, NEVER. Looking back I can see what a crazy f**ker I was. I had a lot of anger and resentment that led to fighting.
My fighting would have eventually taken my life if I hadn’t left Venice, because it wasn’t safe for me there anymore. So I moved to San Diego and I created a lot of the same wreckage. I moved further and further away, and finally out of state to outrun the trail of misery that I got mixed up with.
If I could go back, I would tell young Fernando to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and to follow a career, go to college, and get an education. That is what I tell my kids now. I have two beautiful kids; they are my reason for being sober. It wasn’t until I realized that my behavior could take my kids away that I actually got sober. My stories have made a positive impact on my children, teaching them what drugs, and unresolved anger will do.
All the crap I put myself through…are my best tools to help another addict and alcoholic today.
Today, I live in Missouri with my two kids. I take my sobriety seriously. I attend AA and NA regularly, and speak at prisons and county jails for recovery. I work on a towboat on the Mississippi river and have my own business detailing cars when I’m not on the river.
W e s t of L i n c o l n Project
August 5 – September 1