Every morning, Francis Mesaros competes with the sun to see who can start their day first. Francis springs out of bed in Middletown, heads to Red Bank Studio, grabs his pallet knives, and creates three-dimensional Pancture© paintings with a surgeon’s precision and a rabid ambition.
In his personal life, he was a son, a brother, a friend, and a husband. Professionally, he was an employee and owner several times over. Spiritually, he is an old soul and an enthusiast for enlightenment. Most of these titles were temporary; some he left behind willingly while others were stolen from him. Today, he goes by simply as Francis Mesaros, Artist — and he is now close to selling paintings for $100,000.
Praise for Francis’s paintings started when he was 13, but his Hungarian father urged him not to pursue a career in painting. At 19, Francis lost his brother, Sgt. Robert Mesaros, US Air Force, in a car crash in Spain. Francis would continue to lose loved ones, and soon enough, his heart broke again when he lost his mother and sister to cancer — the two passing within weeks of each other.
Despite his losses, Francis gained not only monetary wealth from business ventures, but created a rich personal life as he married his soul mate, Carol. “We bought a house in Ocean Port, and that’s where this career started.”
Francis had the home, the wife, and when Carol became pregnant with their daughter, he would soon have the family – soon, he would have everything. Except, having everything wouldn’t be the spark that began his career as an artist. First, he had to lose it all.
Their baby girl died four months into the pregnancy. A year later, Carol was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. When Carol died, the light in Francis’s lifehad gone out. After burying his wife, Francis underwent open-heart quadruple bypass surgery and was lost in depression. “I was as broken as a man can be.”
To cope with the pain, Francis painted. He painted “Infrared Pier” when his brother died. He painted “Harmony” when Carol became pregnant. He painted “Life is Black And White Now” when the baby died and his wife was diagnosed with cancer. He painted “The Unforgiving Sea” when he was told his wife will die. He painted “No More Sunshine” after he held her dead body in his arms.
After burying his wife, he traveled for several months, but eventually returned and found himself in Sandy Hook one night, gazing into the ocean. Suddenly, he thought “look at all those little waves out there. Thousands of little waves. You know what I’ll do? I’ll paint that.”
The tedious task was daunting, but he embraced the challenge and took the first step into his ‘Eternal Ocean’ style, which would lead to his ‘Caribbean’ series. This is when he truly began to heal.
A few years after Carol died, Francis found a new friend named Izola Fix. “She was my strength at the time – an angel.” Izola became his mate, helped nurse him back from depression and gave him the push he needed to continue his journey. “She saw my work and bolstered me to continue.”
Francis, having suffered unfathomably, always found himself back in front of an easel. Creating art in response to major life events gave him the reclusion needed to realign himself. His art not only helped him heal but served as entries to his life’s diary. Over forty years, Francis had a collection of fourteen paintings, and with Izola’s support, Francis brought these paintings to the Asher Neiman Gallery in Red Bank for his first art show in 2008 — an exhibit titled “Paintings From A Life.” He laid bare his most intimate moments in life, embodied in works of art done in a style as eccentric as the life they mirrored, and in response, someone purchased a Francis Mesaros original for the first time.
“That was the very first time I sold a painting, for $3,700!” Francis reflected, still astonished someone valued his work so much. “There was no way that I was ready for that encouragement…this was like divine intervention, man. First, I sold a painting for $3,700, then I sold a painting for $5,500, then one for $7,200, then $9,000, then $11,000” and the numbers continued to climb.
“At my darkest moment… I’m given a painting technique that’s never been done before, and I do my first show in Red Bank. If that didn’t happen, none of this would have happened.”
Recognizing he had an opportunity within reach, Francis sold everything he owned, went to Florida, and poured every ounce of himself into honing his skills. He bought $30,000 of art supplies, $5,000 of food, and locked himself away to paint incessantly for seven years. At his most isolated, he went three months without leaving the house. Francis left his confines reborn and optimized his technique of using painting knives to sculpt massive amounts of oil with mind-bending precision. He trademarked his style and created the brand Pancture© Paintings.
His work was being featured in galleries between Red Bank, New York, Florida, and Colorado with acquisitions across the US, Japan, and Canada. Baffled by his mounting fame and fortune, his skyrocketing success culminated in what Francis considers a pivotal moment in his career, selling two of his large seascape works to Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil.
In July 2015, Francis reached an uncharted zenith for an artist. The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Francis the exclusive patent for the unprecedented technique of his Pancture© paintings and design of his pallet knives. His work truly exists in a world of its own.
Francis Mesaros walked a path unlike any other. His artistic career started with that first show in Red Bank, and through all the twists and turns, that path still leads back to Red Bank where he spends his time with Izola and painting in between trips to Florida. What he lost and what he gained along the way are both equally incomprehensible to most – especially himself. He seems to still feel like he’s about to awake from a dream at any moment, but until that happens, he is grateful for every minute spent on this wild journey. “My whole life has just been a blessing and I thank the universe for giving it to me, for giving me the chance, and I hope I don’t let anybody down. I won’t let anybody down.”