NEW YORK, Aug. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Artist Jacques Rosas was gay bashed and beaten in Los Angeles in 1990 by 6 men with baseball bats and chains. Multiple blows to the head, ribs and psyche left him injured but ignited a storm of creative expression that is now in its 3rd decade.
During a very dramatic public jury trial, Jacques began a Street Art Project that marked the place where others had been beaten, killed or terrorized by anti-gay thugs. His “Bashed” art series began to appear all over the streets of Los Angeles, then to other cities.
Consumed with the need to draw attention to this issue in the most creative way possible, Jacques found a job going door to door for the environmental group Greenpeace. He spoke to 1000′s of Americans at their homes, in 30 states, about environmental issues as an open gay American hoping to put a dent in the hatred. Trying to understand why, searching.
One night while creating street art he faced the second attempt on his life as three men held him at gun point in the parking lot of Denny’s on the Sunset Strip in LA. These came in verbal assaults and a pistol whipping but it was “the look of hatred in their eyes” that made Jacques more determined than ever to change the world. Fortunately, three off duty LA police officers walked out of the restaurant, stopped them, sparing his life from this second assassination attempt for simply being gay.
Jacques’ passion for art, equality and justice made him a very effective campaigner and artist. In 1992 he ran for a delegate seat at the Democratic National Convention in New York and was soon appointed a National Campaign Director for Greenpeace in Washington DC.
Now living in New York, he met composer and ABC soap Star Keith Pruitt. In 1994 Jacques and Keith were in the West Village walking and holding hands. Three men with golf clubs attacked Jacques and Keith from behind. They had jumped from a moving car screaming “faggots, faggots” swinging and swinging away at them. When it was over Keith lay in the street with blood pouring from his head. Jacques had broken ribs, and a fractured larynx. Mr. Pruitt was not so lucky. Blood was pouring from his ear, Jacques screaming passionately for help. Finally ambulances arrived and picked them up and took them to the nearest hospital. Keith had suffered a total hearing loss in his right ear and a severe concussion. It was a devastating blow to a working classical musical composer. Mr. Pruitt was in the middle of a commission for the Florida Philharmonic that had to be completed in two months.
Jacques’ new position at Greenpeace headquarters was to start the following Monday in Washington DC. He had to leave Keith behind, alone, in New York. Traveling back and forth to help Keith and attend a lengthy trial that ended in two 7 year convictions for the attackers from East New York. Jacques continued his street art project on the East Coast fueled by this new violence and hatred.
“My close relationship with hate violence has given me nightmares. I don’t know who I can trust and the feeling of a safe place is a luxury I never have unless I am painting,” says Jacques. “When I paint, my nightmares go away,” adds Rosas.
Pruitt finished the orchestral piece on a rented Yamaha Piano in Jacques small Washington DC apartment. Keith dedicated this Symphony to Jacques. Its world premiere was at Lincoln Center in 1994.
All along the way, sketching, painting and creating had become a daily part of Jacques’ life with some of his art work selling.
The injury for Keith had changed his life and he insisted on being alone most of the time. He drifted away from Jacques and most of his friends. Jacques always remained an important part of his life. Depression, anger and sadness over took Keith’s life and in 2008 he died from alcohol and drug abuse. Music was the most important passion in his life and it was taken from him. “Hate took his music, and then it took his life,” says Rosas.
His art and the hardship and the pain of loss had made it near impossible to serve the campaign as it required. In 1997 Jacques was asked to resign from his post at Greenpeace and he returned to New York
Back in New York, Jacques was once again unemployed. He drove the first pedi-cab in Mid-Town Manhattan and used the money to rent a small store front studio in Hell’s Kitchen with Eric Steding.
The new venture, Shop Studios, began creating store window installations and designs for some of the world’s most famous designers on 5th and Madison Avenues. A few painting commissions came in but the commercial art work poured in and kept Jacques and his partner busy.
Demands for Jacques’ creative services grew and Shop Studios moved into a huge old gear factory on West 49th Street. There they have become well known for installation art, set design for every commercial and broadcasting organization imaginable. Shop Studios is in its 15th year of operation as one of Manhattan’s last full service art production companies.
4 years ago Jacques’ partner contracted a rare kidney disease that has left him paralyzed with pain most of the time. Jacques is his primary caregiver. He states: “having a sick room in your home for 4 years keeps you grounded and keeps you real.”
Over the past year Jacques has re dedicated himself to his own expression by creating oil paintings on canvasses. He paints for three hours every night at the Art Student League where he studies under famed painter Mary Beth McKenzie. He also sought inspiration in Paris, France to study and paint at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere.
“The works are pouring out of me and I see no end in sight.” Jacques says: “I always dreamed of being the artist I am today. I never imagined the pain and hardship it would require.”
Jacques’ paintings now can be viewed in their world premiere at his Shop Studios Gallery on West 49th Street in Manhattan.
His works are up for examination by collectors and reviewers by appointment.
Shop Studios Gallery
442 West 49th Street