Mouth and Foot Painting Artists [Member] Dennis A. Francesconi gets a special honor with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver.
Above: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dennis & Kristi Francesconi, with Jim & Pat Venturi. — Below: with First Lady Maria Shriver.
“Well, what can I say, this has been such a tremendous honor for myself and Kristi, as well as for the MFPA. I have to say that the Governor and First Lady are truly remarkable people. We had the pleasure of meeting with them and found that they were very gracious, thankful, and showed great interest in our lives. First, we had a wonderful visit with the First Lady, and a short time later we were joined by the Governor. For us, it was a crossing of paths and a special evening that we shall never forget. Thank you both so very much.”
** Also, many thanks to the staff at the Governor’s and First Lady’s office for your kindness.
*The 2008 California State Christmas card.
**The wonderful credit printed on the ‘inside left’ of card.
And a special thanks to Trish Fontana [Director of Special Projects in the office of First Lady Maria Shriver] for putting this all together…;]
Below is a look at the press generated so far.
An excerpt from The Sacramento Bee: [Published: Tuesday, Dec. 09, 2008]
“Maria and I know that in California, everyone can prosper and be celebrated for their great talents,” said Schwarzenegger. “… This year, we decided to select a fellow Californian who expresses determination through adversity to make dreams come true.”
Also, there’s a particular highlight from the tree lighting ceremony – First Lady Maria Shriver talked about the holiday card and mentioned Dennis in her speech. Included is an excerpt below.
“…And I also just want to — there’s a special individual who is here this evening, whose name is Dennis Francesconi, and he has painted the governor’s Christmas card that is sent out to so many people this holiday season, along with a gift card to members of the National Guard who are deployed overseas. And I would just like to point him out. I don’t know where Dennis is — there’s Dennis. Dennis is in a wheelchair, he had a water-ski accident when he was 17 years of age, and he painted the most extraordinary Christmas tree on the California Christmas card. It’s of a Christmas tree, and he did it with his mouth. And it is an extraordinary portrait, and to spend any time with this man is an inspiration. (Applause)
I said to my kids, “I don’t want to hear one more yip out of you when you tell me you can’t do something,” because he learned to write with his mouth and he learned to paint with his mouth, and he now makes a living as an incredible California artist. So any of you who have the opportunity to see his work or meet him tonight, and his wife Kristi, do yourself a favor to meet an inspirational Californian. Take a minute. It’s our pleasure to have your work on the California governor’s Christmas card and for you to be here this evening, so thank you again. (Applause) …And now it’s my great privilege to introduce your governor, the People’s Governor…”
Press: December 2008,
Newspapers / Magazines:
The Sacramento Bee: [online]
*The above piece was also published on four web sites in Spain, and one in Australia.:
Dennis Francesconi seen here with his tribute painting titled “Freedom, America Remembers.”
Increasingly, individuals with a physical disability are redefining what it means to be disabled.
According to the American Disability Act (ADA), about 43 million Americans–one in seven people–are living with at least one disability, and most Americans will experience a disability at some time during the course of their lives. For some, that experience can be such that it changes the direction of their life forever.
Take for example, Californian artist Dennis Francesconi, who, as a result of a skiing accident at age 17, broke his neck and became a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. Fortunately, he refused to see this as the end of his life.
Eventually, he began to draw by gripping a pencil between his teeth. In time, and with the support of his wife, Kristi, his skills as an artist blossomed.
Later, he was introduced to the U.S. Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA), a for-profit organization run by disabled artists seeking financial independence, formed nearly 50 years ago.
Said Francesconi, “One of the proudest moments of my life was when I was promoted by the MFPA to be a full member artist and I was able to tell the Social Security officer that I didn’t need the monthly benefits check any more.”
Something of which he can be equally proud is his consideration and compassion for others in trouble. Recently, Francesconi spent four months creating a 6½ feet by 4 feet painting, by mouth, to show his support for the fallen and injured members of the armed forces. Titled, “Freedom, America Remembers,” he plans to donate the work to a major U.S. disability rehabilitation hospital for the military.
Francesconi’s paintings have been shown in exhibitions all over the world, but like his more than 60 fellow American artists, his main income comes from painting images that are reproduced and sold as holiday cards and calendars by the MFPA.
Each year in October, artists such as Francesconi and those from other walks of life draw attention to the valuable contribution that the physically disabled bring to society during National Disability Awareness Month.
To find out more about the MFPA, the artists and their products, go to www.mfpausa.com.
Many thanks to Michael J. McCurdy – Founder/Publisher – HealthNewsDigest.com, – Victor Margiotta – Director of MFPA Media Relations USA, and Jim March – Director of MFPA for North America.
Dennis A. Francesconi reaches a potential audience of 10 million readers with the help of HealthNewsDigest.com again…! Also, ** This article was placed on NAPS [North American Precis Syndicate] on Oct. 1, 2008 where it could be picked up by newspapers around the country. The results: It was published in 120 newspapers, spanning 11 states, resulting in a 3.94 million readership as of Jan. 26, 2009.