I’ve always been known as an 'artist-wanna-be’. I’ve waited on tables in a dozen different restaurants. It was in Las Vegas when I went from waiter to painter…
This British guy would come in for dinner several times a week. He always ordered the same thing every day. Sometimes he’d have a couple of people with him, sometimes he’d have 20. Every server in the restaurant would kill to wait on his table. Who wouldn't want to make a $100 tip? I didn’t want to wait on his table. I wanted to work for this guy!
I had a little portfolio that I carried with me all the time, hoping to meet someone like that. A perspective of waiting on tables trying to make my ends meet didn't excite me very much. And this was my chance...
Once the Englishman finished his dinner I approached him and introduced myself. I remember saying: “can I show you something?” which was a weird thing to say to a stranger. He glanced through my portfolio and asked me If he can keep it.
“Of course!”, I said
“You will be contacted”, the guy replied.
I left home feeling pretty good that night. I had no idea this meeting will completely change my life..
A week later the British guy returned. He had two ladies with him. He introduced me to them as a ‘Great Artist’, which was very flattering. He commissioned a few paintings that day and invited me over to his house. He wrote his name and the address on a napkin. In the right bottom corner it said: “formal Mike Tyson’s mansion”. I had to read it several times and still couldn’t believe my luck!
The guy’s name was Dominic Marrocco. One of the wealthiest people in Britain. And the guy loved art. Five paintings turned into twelve. Twelve into twenty. And the next thing I knew I was a full-time artist, had an art studio inside ex Mike Tyson’s mansion, and had a maid come in and clean my bedroom. It was truly ‘living the dream'.
The house was truly spectacular. It was an Estate Compound consisting of two mansions surrounded by hundreds of palm trees. There were 16 bedrooms and when I tried counting bathrooms I’d lose count at 26..
One day me and Mr. Marrocco drove to Michael’s art store. He approached one of the employees and said: ”I'd like to buy every single canvas you have”. The girl looked confused.. I’ve spent next 2 years making close to 200 paintings. It takes time when you have 25.000+ square feet of space to hang art.
Mr. Dominic Marrocco
The idea behind the ‘Actresses’ series was to name each of the bedrooms after an actress. So there’d be a Sophia Loren room, a Marylin Monroe room, an Audrey Hepburn room and etc. Mr. Marrocco loved the idea and I was excited to make it a reality.
SILVER SCREEN SERIES
The mansion always had some type of renovation going on. Be it demolishing a wall, adding one or erecting a completely new structure. This time Mr Marrocco was converting a large unused basement space into a movie theater. There was only one requirement - It had to look classy. With actresses theme going on around the house it was decided that I create a theme around the Golden Age of Hollywood classic movies. An entire corridor would be filled with portraits of Clark Gable, James Dean, Carry Grant, Charlie Chaplin and other greats. I picked a few screenshots from Hollywood's classic movies and painted them in an old sepia-vintage style...
I've always admired Michael Jackson. This man was my inspiration for as long as I can remember. His brother, Jackie Jackson is a friend of Mr. Marrocco and often visited the mansion. I made a few paintings of him, his wife and the Jackson 5. It was great to be able to make something for the Jacksons family.
There is a big mansion 1/2 a mile down the street from the Tyson's house. It was once up for sale. And Michael Jackson himself fell in love with the place and was about to move in the house. This is an excerpt I found in Jeremy's Jackson book "You are not alone":
"Michael first spotted the house in 2007 and now in 2008, he had set his heart on it. One year later, negotiations for its sale were ongoing and Michael was about to make a $15 million down-payment on what he called 'my dream home,' funded by his This Is It contract. America had been forgiven and he was putting down roots in Vegas for himself and the children"
I remember June 25, 2009. How can I forget? It was my birthday... And this one was the saddest of birthdays of all.
Had Michael Jackson not died that day I'd be living on the same street with the King of Pop. But live has it's own plans.
developing of personal style
One day I felt like it's the time I experiment with my style a little. So I take Mr. Marrocco's picture, grab a 48X48 canvas and paint his portrait with colors a 5-year old would use. The result was somewhat interesting. I remember being nervous when it was time to present it. Mr. Marrocco looked at it in silence for about a minute and exclaimed: 'I love it!'
I was relieved and continued 'experimenting' doing more abstract paintings, developing a technique that would become my signature style I'm working in today.