Art helped to keep Ed Mestyanek distracted from the adversities brought on by his placement in foster care.
That passion can now be seen jumping off of windows and walls around Waxahachie. It has also provided an opportunity to experience a supportive community that he needed.
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, lightning struck behind Mestyanek as he painted a David and Goliath mural on the windows of What's Happening Now Ministry.
He touched up the sky left over from the previous mural that showed the timeline of Jesus Christ. With each brush stroke, the cheerful blues darkened to accurately portray the emotion of the deadly battle.
As raindrops fell on the awning, Mestyanek grabbed a plastic crate and placed it on his art supplies that were toted on wheels. He made himself comfortable and shared that his passion for art began as a child.
"I always had something to paint, do or draw," he explained. "Actually, I didn't start painting until I was 25. I drew pictures my whole life. I'd always find a rock or a sidewalk to draw on. We didn't have a lot of toys, and my mom bounced around from different places."
"I went to 16 different schools in first-grade," Mestyanek elaborated.
At the age of eight, Mestyanek resided in the Presbyterian Children's Home in Itasca. He lived there for six years before his grandmother encouraged the system to relocate him to Houston with his siblings.
It was not until 2016 that Mestyanek could call Waxahachie home. His first Christmas experience in downtown influenced his interest in local merchants and the unavoidable holiday cheer.
Before moving to Ellis County, he freelanced creating websites and worked in the cutthroat marketing industry in Dallas. Mestyanek also has a background in network administration from his service in the U.S. Army. He enlisted in August 2001 and dedicated three years to the service that taught him computer encryption coding.
"I was always still excited to paint something on the walls," Mestyanek noted about his passion.
While he worked at Euro Design Builds in Addison, an accident involving a saw in 2014 cut off three fingers on his left hand. Two were re-attached, while the thumb remained severed.
Mestyanek is ambidextrous and utilized each hand for different strokes. He is also still able to perform at a professional level but is severally restricted when playing the guitar.
"I can't use it for extended periods of time," he explained. "I used to do all of my detailed work with this hand. I can only use this hand for five minutes at a time, though."
Ten fingers or nine, Mestyanek is extremely humble about his talents.
"People say, 'You have a God-given talent.'’’ I don't agree with that statement," he said. "I believe God gave me the interest and he's put my life in a position where I didn't have much of a choice to draw. Because of my interest, I've developed a great skill set."
He continued, "People say, 'Oh, you're so lucky.' I wouldn't wish my life on anybody as far as getting to that point to do life-like charcoal portraits that take 30 minutes to do."
He kept an abstract oil painting be created as a child and holds onto a unique painted frame created by his grandfather that continually serves as inspiration.
"I never knew my grandfather, but his name was Ed also. I think I got his skillset in my hands."
HANDS AT WORK
He put his hands to work at first in Desoto where he painted his first "big project" that included three murals at Tipsy Tuesday, a daiquiri bar in DeSoto. The art took up three walls and included famous musicians Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong as well as the owner of the restaurant.
His first ever paid window job was with Skelton Chiropractic.
But that came after several doors shut in his face.
Repeatedly, Mestyanek heard merchants ask, "'Well what have you done in town?'" And requested to see local art. His out-of-town portfolio wasn't enough for Waxahachie merchants.
To achieve a reputation, Mestyanek painted windows at a popular intersection in Waxahachie — Main Street and U.S. Highway 77.
As he painted a ninja snowman on the windows of Lone Star Karate, individuals approached him about adding color to their windows at Skelton Chiropractic and Courthouse Café.
"Before you know it, six months out of the year, I'm just crazy busy," Mestyanek said.
Being out and about working seemed to be the best way to advertise his services.
PAINT THE PLANET
"I don't get paid for all my projects, but it's important to give back to the community," Mestyanek emphasized.
"I have been organizing for Paint the Planet to make the world a more colorful place," he added. "We are trying to provide opportunities for other artists, so they don't have to struggle like I did."
His goal is to instill art in people to express themselves and eventually establish a temporary residential studio for others to advance in the arts.
Along with all of his paid work, Mestyanek is passionate about beautifying the community. He partnered with the Chautauqua for the trashcan transformation where he and other artists painted 28 trash barrels in Getzendaner Park. Next, Mestyanek will paint all the electrical boxes in the parks will be painted.
With three years of business in Ellis County, Mestyanek runs a steady, successful business and also creates websites for others on the side.
"I do attribute it to dedication, determination and perseverance and not giving up," he acknowledged. "But mostly it's the community, and I want to give back."
Mestyanek thanked Anita Brown and John Smith for their assistance and Skelton Chiropractic for believing in him.
For more information on services, log onto https://elmcustomart.wixsite.com/elmcustomart or call 972-646-1830.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450