Lockup Unlocks Creek County Inmate's Hidden Talents

Thursday, October 17th 2013, 11:09 pm
By: Tess Maune

A Green Country inmate is using his time behind bars to give back to the county where he was arrested, and he's making his mark on Creek County offices and officials.

It's a talent that's been locked away for decades.

"I guess it's a God given gift I didn't know I had," said Creek County inmate, Mike Fabas.

It's a gift that's changing Fabas's outlook on life.

"It's nice, I sure do enjoy it. I've got a good portfolio going," said Fabas.

But unlike most other aspiring artists, Fabas is building his portfolio wearing his jailhouse jumpsuit and shackles on his feet.

"It's my fault I'm here, there's no excuses," Fabas said.

Fabas is serving time for drinking and driving, an offense he's been convicted of at least six times and served prison time for twice.

"I don't get to see my grandkids, my family or my kids. It's a wasted life being in there, I know that," Fabas said.

But Fabas has been fortunate enough to make his stint behind bars worthwhile.

"The undersheriff, he seen my drawing at the jail and wanted me to come out here and do some drawing work for him," he said.

Until a few months ago, Fabas had never picked up a paintbrush.

"I drew a little bit, but this is completely different."

Different, maybe, but Fabas is a natural.

"I like to put my heart and soul into it," said Fabas.

He also adds a unique touch, using a plain old ink pen to shade parts of his paintings.

"Makes it alive a little bit. That's what I call it--alive," Fabas said.

The state seal he painted in the court clerk's office is the piece he's most proud of. But Fabas's work can also be seen at the treasurer's office, the sheriff's office, and soon the county commissioners' meeting room.

"Each one of those are personal. He wants to do the best job, because he's gonna leave a mark for everybody to see and he wants it to be something the county can be proud of," said Creek County Commissioner Newt Stephens.

So many people within the county offices have been impressed by Fabas's talent, Stephens said Fabas has a list of other projects to paint.

Once Fabas is finished painting the Creek County seal and state seal in the commissioners' meeting room, he's been asked to paint his biggest project yet: a mural depicting 1920s era downtown Sapulpa.

"I've been blessed by doing it," Fabas said.

And the blessing, Fabas said, has unlocked a lesson he could've only learned while being locked up.

"No more drinking - period - because I've got a problem with it," Fabas said.

"He doesn't just say he's not gonna drink and drive, he says he's not gonna drink, he can't control the drinking and, that's impressive. First you've got to learn you've got a problem before you can fix it, and he sure acts like he's realized it," said Stephens.

Fabas admits he never applied his talents to the right avenues in life, but said painting has given him a sense of pride that's more powerful than alcohol.

"It makes you change your way of thinking a little bit. This makes it a lot better," said Fabas.

Fabas is waiting to be transferred to a state prison, where he'll serve about a year. He said someone has already asked him to do a paid painting once he's free, and he also has at least one person listed as a reference.

"He can tell somebody to call me and ask me, and I will invite them up here to look at [his work] and be happy to tell them he's a great guy," Stephens said.

Reporter Tess Maune: I don't think you're ever too old to step out and take advantage of a second, or third, chance.
Mike Fabas: No, ma'am, and I'm proof of that.