Tony Mafia

I met his widow, Tumbleweed, in Belgium two years ago. The man’s art still speaks. Loudly. Strong.
He has a large piece called “The Interpreter” that I hope to have as the cover of a book (someday). 🙂
I remember wishing I had my tape recorder on while Tumbleweed toured me through the hobbit house, explaining the backstory of all the paintings there.
There are a few limited edition books of some of his work; I hope more will become available. He deserves much wider viewing and recognition. Inspiring, poignant, real. I wish I’d met him in person.

16 thoughts on “Tony Mafia”

  1. I have this large orignal painting that is a young man and a girl,it reminds me of young love it is signed by toni mafia

  2. That’s cool, Kim! Do you want to know more about it? Could you take a pic and send it? Or, explain where/how you got it?
    I think he was big into love. 🙂

  3. My friend has a Tony Mafia watercolor signed Tony Mafia L A 1966 (or 1965). It looks like two people running thru a spooky woods with a third person running after them. her father got it around 1966 in a barter deal for Hi Fi equipment.

  4. Hi Mike, even though I never met him, that sounds like Tony, bartering his work for stereo equipment. If it wasn’t him, himself, doing the bartering I’m still sure he would have appreciated the style. 🙂

  5. Feel free to post on the Tony Mafia, the painter blog. Experiences, pics, anything. I’ll open it up for you,

  6. I acquired one of Tony’s pieces in LA …I found it funny when I took it to THE ANTIQUE ROADSHOW they had no knowledge of Tony…yet when I acquired the piece I heard the same stories that i have read on Tony Mafia the painter Blog….Life is strange …Praise God for his mercy and humor….

  7. Hiya Zan, too bad The Antique Roadshow people didn’t know what they were seeing, but perhaps after a few more encounters they’ll start paying attention. Tony’s work will continue to move people even without their endorsement, don’tcha think? 🙂

  8. I have two originals by Tony Mafia that appear to be Ink and Water Color and about 14″ by 19″ in size. Tony traded them to my Uncle in exchange for his meals and bar bills in Hollywood, CA during early sixties. One of them is of a women holding a child. My uncle felt it was tony’s wife and child but did not verify that fact. I have tried to find out thier auction or insurance value but so far no one has been able to even find out a lot more than whats in a few blogs such as yours. when I get the chance I will get a couple of digital photos taken and send them along in another commnt. If you know someone I could contact to have them appraised I would appreciate the help. Thanks


  10. My father has over 40 paintings of Tony’s as well as many many more drawings and ecthings. You can see some of them on Tony Mafia, the painter blog. I am Windsong on it. Tony was an almost second father to me, I cherish the three pieces that are mine.

  11. Hi Jeff,
    I am so pleased to be able to be part of keeping Tony’s legacy alive. I never met him, but his widow is a dear friend: I know his influence through her (although the power of his paintings speak for themselves).
    Soon, I anticipate being surrounded by some of his work. I am looking forward to it!

  12. After fifty years, I decided to look for Tony Mafia, and it appears as if he is deceased.
    I used to talk to Tony from time to time in a coffee shop in New York. The two of us, along with a small group of other enthusiasts, used to rendezvous there to listen to Augustin de Mello, a self taught Flamenco guitarist. Augustin made an LP recording not long after that time, and I have an autographed copy of the recording. Augustin never gained much fame as a guitarist, but he did gain some notoriety as the father of the supposed genius, Adragon De Mello, who was attending college at age ten. As I recall, Morley Safer interviewed Adragon for a segment of CBS’s 60 Minutes back in the late 1980’s.
    One of the members of our group was the starving Cuban artist, Arnaldo Ravelo Avellaneda who was a friend and lover of another Cuban artist, Angel Acosta Leon, who was still in Cuba at that time, before Castro’s revolution, while Batista was still President of Cuba.
    In the fall of 1959, in Cafe Roue in New York City’s Greenwich Village, I had a conversation with Tony about art. I was carrying a 9” x 12” pad of drawing paper, some chalks, and a marker pen and trying to sketch a girl who sat a few tables away from us. My efforts were clumsy and juvenile, and Tony said that I was trying to be too precise. He asked to borrow the pad and chalks and, in a matter of minutes, proceeded to draw the girl in a Picassoesque style that amazed me.
    He then tossed off another drawing. This one was of a nude standing with an observer looking away from her, and quickly thereafter sketched a seated nude. After that, since we were listening to Spanish Flamenco music, he sketched a toreador standing in the traditional killing pose, with his sword drawn. A few minutes later, in the most detailed of his drawings that night, he sketched what appears to be a Spanish “Don.”
    I don’t remember what Tony’s employment was at the time, but it was not as an artist.
    He drew these five sketches in less than thirty minutes, and he made them so quickly and professionally that I asked him to sign them. I also suggested that he should become a professional artist.
    Tony pooh-poohed the idea, and said that he wasn’t interested.
    I had been in New York only to take courses at The New School, and when the semester was finished I left New York and returned to George Washington University.
    I lost track of Tony after that, but I kept his drawings with me through many moves and corporate transfers, Puerto Rico, back to Washington, then Dallas, Chicago, and Kansas City.
    I re-discovered the drawings while going through memorabilia after my wife died.
    I don’t have photographs of these drawings, but, if anyone is interested in seeing them, I will arrange to have photos taken.

  13. Hi Steph,
    Glad I found your posting. It was only February of this year that I saw my father’s face for the first time…only took 52 years. Through Tumbleweed’s site I’ve finally made sense of who I am through the eyes of someone known, but never “known”. She has also connected me to siblings and the next chapter of Tony’s legacy is being written. I would love to get to know Jeff/Windsong too….if he is so inclined.
    This is from my blog, Beyond the Planck Barrier:
    there was a seascape, which Tony had given my grandmother, Grace, stolen from my aunt’s house, they lived in the land of floods, too….the Natchez in Southeast Texas, their house vandalized. I broke my heart as it was the
    only tangible connection I had to my father…..
    but in reading in Tumbleweed’s entry on Tony’s lessons on impermanence, I realized how I was like my father in many ways. I had always neglected to document work, most of it given away as spontaneous gifts or in my sculpture (my BFA) I’d dismantle things and reuse as soon as I understood what I was trying to say/see, drove my professors nuts. My belief was that your creativity/art was revealed in the process,
    the uncovering of these incredible mysteries.
    After I moved to NYC in the early ’80’s, The Universe gave me occasion to put my money
    where my mouth was, so to speak… I was in Australia,traveling for work in 1990, my belongings, which included a hundred or so black books, my portfolio, drawings etc in storage. While I hiked the Milford trek and climbed Uluru for my 34th birthday, the storage company was sold and as I wasn’t there to pay the rent to new owners, everything was sold at auction. Once home, at first, traumatized, I sat on the subway, trying to figure out how to “find” my art. I began visualizing every sheet of paper, reliving every stroke. I could see each piece whether manifested or only an idea, my brainchildren. I could see them all and I knew then, on that F train home nothing was ever lost.
    Years later I wrote this poem, my family portrait. A snapshot of my mother holding me in front of my father’s painting…it was for years my only image of him. Not one of my better poems but speaks volumes to my memories.
    Once upon a time, curious eyes and
    questions asked bred fantastic
    feats of derring-do,
    sea monsters fought and
    lost at sea you were.
    No hope for survivors,
    no hope for safe return,
    The Hero’s welcome, welcoming arms,
    no knee for my needing.
    It was the sea, the sea,
    that oily ocean’s roil; impasto
    waves that dashed their court
    and sparks flew.
    Spontaneously combusted
    beacons occurred, flashing
    for all souls lost in
    that sea of sand and neon.
    Neon flashed in twilight hours,
    flashes of brilliance
    illuminating the darkness.
    Frantic brush fires burning
    hot to Burnt Umber.
    Fires cooled with Ultramarine, sea deep,
    the crash of Titanium White
    on Van Dyke Brown.
    Flick, flick of salt and sweat
    brushed Payne’s Grey
    framed in black.
    Black cat’s eye, encircling arm
    life preserving, skimming
    the deep with a wink, twinkle eye.
    Sunlight after storm.
    what was misplaced is found….the poem, not the snapshot. The painting gone, art as proof of life, stolen with malice aforethought.But like all visions, “it was just my imagination”and there is where you will find the seat of my soul.
    This has been an integrating epiphany for me and I do not believe in coincidence. I don’t need “things” that represent this father, this
    Tony, too, I never knew, but strangely knew. I do, however, have a need to fill in my own blanks. We are so much more than these lumps
    of flesh and the web that connects us with those who are our soul’s family may appear fragile, but it’s tensile strength is without parallel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.