Anthony Blanco provides proof that out of pain can come beauty. Abused as a young child for two years by the priest of the church where he was training as an altar boy, he is now an admired photographer, whose work has developed from his attempts to heal his inner wounds.
On June 2, the Palm Springs photographer won his court case against the Catholic Church — a legal battle started in 2020 when he filed suit against the Archdiocese of Miami. The result was $150,000 in compensatory damages.
The settlement was far from the end of a decades-long ordeal.
“I carried around the guilt and shame for 60 years,” he says. “[I] did not get help until I was 65 years old and I finally became a survivor. I went through therapy and support groups to help me through it.”
His parents were Mexican-American, very religious, and in the culture of that time, according to Blanco, “we couldn’t say anything against the Church. My parents wouldn’t have believed me.”
He turned to self-medication with alcohol and drugs, estimating he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on them over the course of three decades. Blanco, who is sober now, moved to Palm Springs 10 years ago.
“The desert colors are vibrant and smoothing,” he says. “It reflects my spiritual nature which is in my art.”
He turned to his art, digitally manipulated photographs, in an attempt to keep his mind off the case, saying, “It was my therapy and for the first time in my life I felt free.”
Dr. Scott Diquattro displayed his pictures in his Palm Springs office, and many have been sold as a result. Judy Ray, the office receptionist, says staff wanted to help Blanco with his art, which she describes as diverse – art deco to traditional. Two pictures of Ray’s cats, done by Blanco, hang on the wall.
“He’s gone through a lot in his life,” says Ray. “I admire the fact that he didn’t let the negative things destroy or define him. He’s finding his happiness.”
Palm Desert Library Assistant Librarian Robert Arce said Blanco’s pictures of desert landscapes and pets were so impressive they they decided to display them in the library.
“He gives the landscape in Palm Springs something different than what we always see,” Arce says. “He adds color to the cracked ground, giving it a vibrant, fresh look. In other words, he sees something we don’t see.
“It is rewarding for the library to work with local artists and share it with their patrons who get to enjoy them. It’s so great that Palm Springs and Coachella Valley embrace our local artists.”
Blanco is pleased to share his art with the world. A fan base in Palm Springs has been supportive by purchasing his pieces. Equally important, he says that his creations prove beauty can sometimes come out of a horrific experience. He is committed to spending time helping others who have gone through similar experiences, especially since abuse as a child can shape an entire life, including health, relationships, spirituality and financial life.
More information: Blanco invites anyone who needs help with similar issues to contact him at [email protected].