Five Who Have Faith in their Art.

Bob Swenson- Freedom58Project

Once Rob learned all he could from me on our Saturday tackle football games in elementary school in Tracy, he went on to become an All-Pro linebacker for the Denver Broncos’ Orange Crush defense.  But as he says, something interesting happened after his time at the Super Bowl.

“I received Christ in 1978 after Super Bowl. I had everything but was miserable….so one night I told God that I couldn’t pull myself out of this pit and (asked) for Him to take over. Within weeks God cut out most of my friends, my girlfriend.     

(In respoRobSwensonnse) I walked into First Presbyterian in Boulder and couldn’t believe the peace I felt at that moment and how far I had gotten off course searching for the inner circle.”

Since his career in football Bob has gone into several ventures including becoming one of the founding members of Promise Keepers.

Currently, he and his wife, Libby, are team members in Freedom58Project, an effort to combat human trafficking here and around the world. Bob’s vision was to create an artist collective to present the face of contemporary slavery for all to see. In his words,”We believe in the unique ability that artists have to see people deeply, and create dignity, hope and beauty amidst the brokenness of our world. In response to the issue of modern-day slavery, the Freedom 58 Project Art Exhibit will be a place to journey with survivors through their stories of oppression, injustice, and violence, to rescue, restoration, and freedom. It will give viewers a chance to reflect on our own stories of injustice, and inspire action to re-purpose our freedom for the sake of others.”

For more information see

 Gabriel Manzo- Music Director, Malo

Even before Malo, (featuring Carlos Santana’s brother Jorge) played for Tracy High senior prom in 1971, Gabriel Manzo wanted to play guitar.  He replaced Jorge and became the lead guitarist and principal vocalist and music director for Malo in 1984.manzo2

His love for Latin Rock has provided more than three decades of transformative expression with Malo’s deeply influential place within the Latin music world.  So much so, that Gabriel also toured with Pete Escovido, Pete Tellez as well as Bo Diddly. Recently Gabriel has written more music than Malo could produce so he formed Manzo Rally as a way to express his music interests.Many regard Manzo Rally as a new innovation to the guitar driven, rhythm fueled genre known as Latin Rock and Gabriel is proud to be a patriarch of this musical style.

Gabriel and his wife, Dawn, also possess a deep faith which gives them great motivation to present expressions of freedom in his music.  In his words, “Our faith in God is the very center of our lives, and we read His Word daily, as well as thanking Him constantly for all the blessings He bestows upon us.  OUR GOD IS AWESOME! ”

Here’s a link to Manzo Rally:



Kaitlin Neely~Artist, Craftswoman, EntepreneurIMG_0181

I had a hard time describing all of the talents and assets in this beautiful thirty year old woman. After a stint as my neighbor and my daughter’s best friend, she attended Bible College.  She then launched out on her own into the world of creative expression. I’ll let her email speak for her:”

  1. These are two wedding quilts I made last year.  He commissioned one for her, she commissioned one for him, without either of them knowing!  They were both so surprised and pleased.  It was one of the best projects I’ve ever done, blogged about at
  2. A small quilt I made and modeled recently.  Blogged about at
  3. I’ve been making some of my own clothes since I was 15 but this dress I made a couple weeks ago is my most favorite thing I’ve ever made.  Not yet blogged.
  4. Starting February 1st, I will be the proud owner of The Little General fabric boutique in Winston Salem, NC.  This happy little shop provides fabric, supplies, classes, and inspiration, and will soon include longarm quilting services and custom quilts.  Website is currently being redone but you can still find the old one at
  5. One of my other endeavors is being a founding member of a studio collective called Electric Pyramid Studios.  We currently have 19 artists that work out of our space in downtown Winston Salem doing everything from painting and printmaking to sewing and upholstery.  I am the lone quilter in the group, working, in this picture, on a king sized quilt I made in a whirlwind 10 days.  This photo was part of an article in a local alt weekly
  6. This is a before and after shot of my room in the studio.  The building had been vacant for years and had fallen into disrepair.  I blogged about it at
  7. One of the things I am bringing into The Little General is what’s called a longarm quilting machine, pictured here.  It is a 13 foot long computerized sewing machine that it used to stitch together the three layers of a quilt.”

MandyMandy Bankson- Visual Artist

I have noted Mandy’s work here on this blog before and I own several original paintings and reproductions of her work.  Mandy draws her inspiration from the natural world as well as her Christian worldview.  As an abstract artist, such expression is subtle and indirect but her use of colors, angles and curves produce a dreamy, yet organic quality to her artwork.

Her 2013 commission of Jacob’s Ladder was inspired by the line from the Bible when the young con-man, Jacob, was dreaming of his immortal Stairway to Heaven.  “I did not know that God was in this place,” is the Scripture reference and Mandy has produced an entire collection on that vision and her artistic interpretation of it.

You can read and see more about Mandy’s work at:

Christopher Shawn Shaw2eab9a7

Christopher Shawn Shaw is an Award-Winning Filmmaker who specializes in Film and Video Directing, Producing, Editing, Creative Consulting, Writing, and even Acting. He is also the Founder and Producer of the Night Of Comedy & Short Films FUNdraiser (NCSFF) LIVE events designed to support the production of high-quality, redemptive film and video content AND help supplement the hosting church fellowships’ yearly budget.

A native of the Buckeye State, Christopher is a graduate of Otterbein College (now Otterbein University) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance (Acting/Directing) degree. Since relocating to California, Christopher has performed on numerous television series, commercials and short films, has directed documentaries, commercials, and has produced and directed numerous short films, both comedies and dramas.

Christopher has collaborated with Pastor/Comedian/Author Thor Ramsey on at least 7 short films – including a number of 168 Film Project short films – and they are in the fundraising phase of their first feature film project, YOUTH GROUP. He is also collaborating with other Writer/Producers on film projects of varying genres and lengths.

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