Mische Technique on linen
40"" x 30", 2014
Miky and I grew up in the same neighborhood in the Dominican Republic and became close friends when we went to the same Art School. It was a friendship that would last until the end of the road for him; more than a friend Miky was a brother to me.
I could tell so many stories about Miky. He had a great sense of humor and was an honest, authentic and openly gay person; he had no hidden agendas as he was as transparent as clear water. I visited him when he lived in Spain and years later he came to New York around the same time that I moved to the city. Miky and I would walk all over Manhattan looking for galleries that would be interested in our work and it was a difficult time since neither of us spoke English.
After a few months Miky gave up and went back to the Dominican Republic. I stayed in New York. He started producing a TV show were he would bring real life’s dramas to the TV, He had a great group of actors that supported his work and they would perform the stories, usually very violent dramas. During five years he struggled to get the program to sell since it was aired after midnight because of the content and although it had the highest rating for that hour it was still difficult to get the sponsors. During those times of harness Miky and I had a conversation in which Micky confessed me his assurance in his path, he felt he was born to do what he was doing and that really resonated in me since I feel the same way about my art. We both agreed that our work in the arts was our main purpose in life.
An event that marked Miky very deeply was the death of his mother. Dona Nelly was a very spiritual and beautiful soul and her death came as a surprise to everyone, she was a medium and had a group of friends with the same interest in spirituality. In that last meeting she said she saw angels radiating a beautiful blue light and they were coming to her as she was describing how beautiful they were she lost consciousness and her spirit abandoned the body leaving it lifeless. For Miky it was very hard to go from work to the hospital and see her body covered with white sheets.
I remember a time when we were teenagers and were discussing about life after death when he suddenly said to me: How can you be so sure if there is life after death? I answered back to him saying: because like your mother and mine I have seen proof of it…Many times! That is when he said: Let make a pact if I die first I will find a way to let you know you were right. And I said: if I die first then I will find a way to prove it to you when he suddenly answered: please don’t, I would have a heart attack so I am the only one that is going to prove it. I said: we have a deal.
After years of financial struggle his show started to take off and he became very well known in the Dominican Republic and also in the Latino community in New York since his show was on cable TV.
In one of his last visits to NY as we were walking on uptown Manhattan, I began to feel uncomfortable because people kept staring at us. Suddenly I realized that they were recognizing him from his show. I am a person who doesn’t like to be noticed when I am not in a gallery and am just walking on the street, so I said to him very seriously: This is the last time that you and I are walking together in uptown Manhattan…then he laughed at me.
On his last visit, we were talking about his work and it was wonderful to see that the effort and perseverance of these last years was finally paying off and he said: “I even was threatened when I did a show about the death of a young man”. He changed all the names but apparently some people knew who was the person involved in the real life event. Weeks after the show was aired as he was driving his car, he was stopped in a traffic light and a person came to him and said that the show was watched by this person and concluded saying: “so now you know”. Miky was left wondering what he meant by that.
When Miky said that to me I felt a deep and cold pressure in my heart like something terrible was going to happen. Miky was calm but I could feel he was a little worried. I tried to cover my worry since I didn't want him to become more preoccupied and only said: You have to be really careful, Miky and asked him: Do you think is worth to risk so much for a show? He looked at me and very seriously he said: it is not just for a show, it is my mission.
I took a picture of him on my studio that day and when he left I was very worried about him. During the following months I received some very unusual emails from Miky, he had forwarded some emails with religious content and coming from him it meant that something was wrong. I replied saying: If you turned into a Jehovah witness is a sign that the world is ending.
A few months later I again felt the cold pressure in my heart when a friend called me from the Dominican Republic and delivered the news that Miky had been brutally murdered in a motel room in Santo Domingo. Many pictures I suppose from the forensic made it to the internet. The press in the DR can be very insensitive. I was horrified to think that Miky`s sister, Gabriela or Carlos, his brother, could see those pictures. I personally avoided any site where I could find any pictures of him as I knew it would be too much to bear for me to see any pictures of the scene.
I knew that I had to do his portrait but I was waiting to overcome the pain that his death left in me; I didn't want this pain to be reflected on the painting. I have always thought of death as something like a return to home but when it is violent, it leaves scars in the soul of the departed and on those who love him.
After some years passed from his death and I was ready to start working on his portrait, I searched on the internet for those pictures that I didn’t want to see. I saw a few but realized that I didn’t want his painting to be about his last moments. I visualized his painting about his birth or awakening back home.
The picture that I took of him the last time I saw him felt perfect for the painting so I used it as reference. In the background two angels are bringing Miky`s mother to see him and in the lower part of the painting, entities with their green light come to help to raise and heal his spirit.
Copyright © by Miguel Tió