- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - Cardboard was Bobby Marines‘ first canvas.

It wasn’t that he loved the heavy-duty packing paper, it was just the only surface he could afford.

The 29-year-old Marines, who also goes by Bobby Marinez, spent his first six years in Rochester decorating the town with his cardboard paintings. Living in his younger sister Ashley Marines‘ basement, Bobby didn’t have money to buy traditional canvases, so he ripped boxes apart, found a blank piece and painted on it.

Early on, there were no art shows or exhibits. He displayed his work by “tagging it” all over downtown Rochester. He posted nine cardboard paintings alone on the back of the brick building where the Creative Salon, Marines‘ current home away from home, now is.

Art has always been a passion for Marines. Growing up in Robstown, Texas, a suburb of Corpus Christi - a place Marines called “a pit” - the young artist found little inspiration. He would watch artists on TV and tell his cousin, Richard Olivo, that he could paint better. Olivo told him to quit talking about it and do it.

The pep talks helped, but Marines still kept his art to himself. It wasn’t until he moved to Rochester at age 20 that he started to gain a confidence in his work. He said Ashley’s willingness to hang his cardboard paintings in the living room inspired him.

“She asked if she could put them in her living room,” Marines told the Post-Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1k8LscH ). “She would say, ‘This is mine. It’s going to be worth a lot when you get famous.’ Things like that really kept me going.”

Unfortunately his desire to create art made working an 8-to-5 job difficult, along with the fact that he never attended high school.

“I did the labor thing. I did the work thing. I did the factory thing. It was hard for me to not feel like I wasting my potential,” he said. “I didn’t want to waste my time and my potential on something monotonous. It’s harder for me to do that. I would rather risk being homeless or live in motel. Being homeless or out of work does not really phase me or bother me too much. But standing on an assembly line when I know I could be out there making (expletive). That bothers me.”

Those cardboard paintings would eventually win him five ribbons and “a little cash” at the 2010 Olmsted County Fair. Soon, Marines was painting on various surfaces during the Rochester Artwalk and Thursdays on First. While painting at Thursdays on First, District Court Judge Kevin Lund spent $1,000 on his painting of the Rochester skyline. It was the first painting Marines ever sold for “real money.” With the $1,000, Marines bought another canvas for $100.

Marines’ tireless work ethic motivates other local artists, including Patrick John.

Bobby is huge inspiration for everyone. No one works harder,” John said. “When I started coming to (Creative Salon) a year ago, I would see Bobby and he was always working, working, working. You learn from him that this is not a 40-hours-a-week job; it’s an 80- to 100-hours-a-week job. You want to get to 10,000 hours. We don’t even want to think about how much money you make per hour.”

Before meeting Marines, spoken word artist Sophie Marie had little confidence to publicly share her thoughts. Marines helped her take the stage for the first time. But even a writer and poet like Marie struggles to come up with words to describe Marines‘ work.

“It can’t be described. There is no way to describe Bobby’s art. He’s always pushing the limits.”

Marines’ himself describes his work as acrylics on canvas using vibrant colors in a liberal manner in order to convey energy and moods as aesthetically as possible. The subject matter mainly consists of places or objects that have left a great impression on him.

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