“Not Just Me Anymore”

acrylic on canvas, 36 × 36″, 2016, inquire about price, by Ruth Chase

Painted in collaboration with Fernando Manzanilla by Ruth Chase. The painting reflects a portion of “Fern’s” life story and the wisdom he has as a result of the struggles he faced  growing up in Venice, CA. This painting is part of the West of Lincoln Project. The content of this painting came from working closely with Fern for three months, making sure the details reflected his valuable life wisdom.

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Fernando Manzanilla
1966 | Washington Way

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.

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 New York. When I was 2, we moved to Los Angeles where the 405 FWY ran through our backyard. Because it gave my mom and me 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 fucker I was. I had a lot of anger and resentment that led me 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, 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 became my best tools to help other addicts and alcoholics today.

Bio taken from an audio interview by Ruth, edited by Gena Lasko