The West of Lincoln Project

The only biography preview until the exhibition August 5th @ Venice Arts

Fernando Manzanilla

b. 1966
Grew up on Washington Way, Venice, CA

Not Just Me Anymore by Ruth Chase

 “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

Opening Reception | Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8pm
13445 Beach Ave., Venice Marina, CA

About the Author Artist Ruth Chase

Ruth Chase is primarily a project based artist whose award winning series, West of Lincoln Project, probed into the lives of individuals who grew up in Venice, CA, sharing stories of adversity transformed into valuable life wisdom. She is a California-based painter that uses biographical portraiture to communicate stories of compassion, and valuable insight that promotes positive social change. Her work includes the use of social media in her creative process to stimulate conversation around human value, as well as engaging the public to actively participate in the final outcome of her work.

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