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Jose Luis Martinez

My name is Jose Luis Martinez.  I am a prisoner in California.  I am participating in Artists Serving Humanity as it has great meaning for me. I was born in a family of ten siblings, 5 brothers and 5 sisters. I am the youngest.  My childhood was a bit hard since my Dad died when I was 2 years old.  My Mom started working around 13 hours a day to support me and three of my sisters.  My brothers were already married.  I grew up without the care necessary for a child and without a family identity.  Sometimes my brothers would  watch over me and sometimes others.  I would stay with neighbors.  When my mom wasn’t working all of the time we had quality time together.  By the time I was 7 years old I decided to live by myself in the streets.  I left my Mom’s house for 4 years and lived in Mexico City.  There, I learned about the toughness of the streets and the cruelty of the addictions, hunger and lack of love.  I returned home when I was 11 years old. It was the best thing to do, but I was no longer the same.  I was full of doubts, fear, low self-esteem and had a lot of anger.  I still tried to have a “normal life” and went to school. 

J.L. Martinez childhood photo

When I was 16 I started a business of my own in screen printing and promotional articles. I got married and had two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. Sadly I returned to my addictions thinking there was no harm in it. I worked and provided for my family but the problems between me and my wife increased along with my addiction reaching a point that I started a relationship with another person.  When one of my brothers got terminally ill I threw myself fully into my addictions and started to use stronger drugs. This was my way of escaping all of the pain and suffering of my past and the death of my brother. I became completely lost in the addiction of methamphetamine hurting my loved ones and myself.  I no longer had any right judgment. I worked here and there and ended up doing things that I would never do before drugs.


I ended up in prison at the age of 31.  This was the beginning of my years of torment of remorse for the things I’d done.  Depression for abandoning my family  leaving them without help.  Eventually I became a Believer and accepted  Jesus Christ as my Savior.  This helped me overcome my anxiety and pain.  I started to draw and paint my frustration.  This was not enough.  When I decided to donate my art I began to feel that finally I was making amends for the damage that I had done.  Art is also my therapy and a large part of my rehabilitation.  It gives me a way to escape my monotonous prison incarceration.  It gives me a sense of hope and a belief that rehabilitation is actually possible.  I am now 43 years old.  


I come from a family of artists.  My Uncle Raymond died in 2012 and was a renowned Master Painter in the Garden of Art (Jardin del Arte) in Mexico City.  I also have an older brother who is a painter and also makes canvas as did my Uncle.


Until recently I have used pigeon feathers and even my beard as paint brushes. Now real paint brushes have been approved in my prison. Art is my passion and I hope I will be able to generate funds to donate to St. Judes Hospital.  Much of my art reflects memories of my eldest sister’s ranch in Puebla, Mexico.  I always found peace there when I visited. She had beautiful horses, one knew how to dance.


Thank you for reading my story.  I hope you enjoy my art. 

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