Glen Resident Cover Story: Nov. 16, 2005 By Alicia Upano
True Colors: Young adults express themselves on canvas
Heart of Chaos hosts the second Youth on Fire exhibit
in November, 2005
Nichole Nye's painting, 'Untitled,' is one of a variety of works on display.
Circle Time: Willow Glen resident Joanne Hobbs (center)
Brooks College Sunnyvale instructor who works with young
artists (from left, clockwise) Cynthia Garcia, Hector Garcia,
Abe Guzman, Nicole Nye and Michael Denning. Their work
will be showcased at the Youth on Fire exhibit.
True Colors: Young adults ExpressThemselves on Canvas
He was a class-cutting, skateboard-riding student with dyslexia. In his
senior year, Curtis Manzano wasn't going to graduate. But Willow Glen
resident Joanne Hobbs, his Lincoln High School teacher at the time, saw
a young man who was talented, sincere and insightful. He just needed direction.
Manzano took Hobbs' computer graphic design class as a sophomore and junior
and began hanging around her classroom during his senior year, sometimes
three periods a day, he says. He would use the time to focus on his favorite
hobby, drawing. Self-trained, Manzano drew archetypal figures infused
with Native American nature themes. Manzano is one-quarter Comanche, one-quarter
Navajo and half Hispanic although he never knew much about his indigenous
"Drawing after drawing, he turned out these amazing pieces,"
She encouraged him to continue. She offered to print his
work, and even bought him a sketchpad for Christmas. Although he had found
a nurturer in Hobbs, graduating from high school still looked like impossibility,
and his personal life was unstable. In 2002, Manzano told Hobbs he was
"Sometimes I wake up and wish I had another life," Manzano told
Her response was heartfelt. "I can give you another life," she
The short exchange became a contract between mentor and student. As the
two began working together, Hobbs found Manzano had reason to wish for
better. Manzano's father was absent throughout his childhood. His mother
struggled with drug and alcohol addictions. He had to fend for himself
at the age of 11. He slept on the sofas and floors of friends and families,
and once in a van for six months. At age 12, he began working, earning
$1.25 per box of candy he sold on the street. By age 14, he was earning
room and board in his cousin's home by lifting stone statuaries.
"It was hard," Manzano says. "I was never anywhere too
Now with Hobbs' help, Manzano could travel down a road that would lead
him toward a brighter future.
Hobbs helped Manzano complete high school, which enabled him to graduate
through a home schooling program.Manzano's creative life also began to
Road to discovery
Under Hobbs' guidance, Manzano began expressing himself through art--paintings,
airbrush, sculpture and glass blowing. Read more
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