Nacogdoches graphic artist indebted to NHS art teacher - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Nacogdoches graphic artist indebted to NHS art teacher


Martin Zavala used to get in trouble drawing in class at Nacogdoches High School. One day former principal Dennis Williams caught Zavala drawing dragons. He put the student's talent to work drawing a hallway mural of a mean looking mascot using cans of spray paint. Several years later, Zavala says, "You don't really have to do it the illegal way."

The 2008 NHS graduate, now going by the artist name of 'Ghost', is still drawing in school, but this time is paid for it. Ghost and a friend are collaborating on the 'Live From New York' backdrop for the spring Dragonette show.

While students learn, the artists are in the 'old gym' air brushing on bed sheets sewn together. They climb a tall scaffold to reach the top which hangs from the rafters.

"I still can't believe I'm doing this," said Ghost. "You don't know how many teachers would be upset with me. Now they're coming in here and saying, 'Oh, Martin how wonderful this is.' I just can't believe it."

The design is full of color and excitement. Broadway plays are the feature. "If you went to New York and you seen all these plays, I think you should do Time Square," is what Zavala suggested to the girls.

They liked it. "Some of the school girls who went up (New York) there gave us a lot of advice about what was going down over there," said Samuel 'Sambo' Reyes. "They kinda got a vision for it and we are putting it up there for them."

For Ghost, the project brings him back to his mentor, art teacher Brinson Dabney. "As a matter of fact, he's the one who got me into air brushing. He gave me my first air brush and from then I started going. I didn't stop with it," recalled Ghost.

Dabney, or 'Mr. D.', as his students refer to him, stops by to see his former students progress. "I've been blessed, so I wanted to pass on some good thing to you students and be a positive influence," said Dabney to Ghost. "I love that. That's something I can never forget about you, Mr. D," responded Ghost. "Well that makes me feel very nice," said Dabney. "You don't know how I feel," said Ghost with gratitude. The two men then shared a laugh.

"The only difference between dream and reality is to follow through," Dabney tells his students. So Ghost is saving up to start his own business. "No matter what it is, if it's tattooing, air brush, spray painting, it's just my talent. What God gave me," said Ghost.

Ghost and Sambo have completed commercial murals in restaurants, clubs, and on motorcycles and helmets. The same pride for their work is illustrated in everything they do.

They both plan to dress in formal attire and attend the Dragonette show. "We got to see how our work plays out with their dancing," smiled Ghost.

The Dragonette spring show is May 12,13, and 14. Contact Nacogdoches High School for times and tickets.

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