Open house at museum to highlight works of artist and writer Tony Mafia

Annmarie Mafia-Sauer, an interpreter with the British Parliament, gets emotional when she describes the "extraordinary love affair" and marriage she had with Tony Mafia, the artist she met in 1967 but did not marry until 1991.

"He was larger than life.

In the 67 years of his life he did not compromise in his art, and very seldom in his life," Mafia-Sauer said of Mafia, who died in Hoboken, Belgium May 10, 1999.

From 1991 until 1999 Annmarie was a friend, companion and wife to Mafia as they divided their time between the Tony Mafia Gallery in Los Angles and Mill Valley, California and studios in Chloride, were he is buried, and Hoboken, Belgium.

A world-renowned artist, Mafia's artwork has been shown at museums and art exhibits the world over including the Palais Royale in Paris, the Chicago Art Institute, Het Stedelijk Muzeum in Amsterdam and McKenzie Gallery in New York, just to name a few.

Two of the artist's lithographs were shown in the graphic collection of the Louvre in Paris.

His paintings have also graced the walls of 39 private collectors including Audrey Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, the Renoir family, Queen Elizabeth 11 and Cher, whom he did a portrait of when she was16.

Mafia's subjects are captured in bold fragments of the artist's imagination, each a tapestry of dreamlike faces and figures interwoven on canvas.

Although many of his paintings are inspired by his American Indian heritage, Mafia did not paint in the "Southwest style.

"His strokes are bolder, his choice of color more vibrant and alive," Mafia-Sauer said.

Mafia-Sauer first met the artist who would one day become her husband in 1968 when she was living in Germany.

But she was already married and pregnant with her first child at the time.

"He was crazy back then," she said with a laugh.

"He became a part of the family."

The two kept in touch, and when Mafia visited Belgium in 1991 both were free to pursue a relationship.

They "became an item and got married."

Mafia was consumed by his art and would express his love of painting with statements such as, "My painting is bigger than myself," and "I am a brush," she said.

"He liked to paint big," she said.

"Nello's Dream" is a 5 X 5 painting based on a 19th century story that hangs in the Information Centrum in Hoboken (Belgium).

He enjoyed people watching him work …he could be boyish and charming.

But the painting always came first.

The painting Nello's Dream is said to represent love, death and art, but it has also been suggested that the sentimental painting based on a 19th century story of an 8-year-old boy Nello, a dog (Patrasche) and the boys dream to be painter is actually a dream shared by Mafia when he was a young Cherokee growing up in the United States.

Mafia began realizing his dream at a young age, however, receiving scholarships at 8 years of age to the Chicago Art Institute.

He went on to attend Stanford University and California School of Fine Arts at Berkeley and later attended the University of Leipzig in Germany.

Since her husband's death Mafia-Sauer is still dividing her time between Chloride, where she is restoring an historic gas station, and her work as an interpreter in Belgium.

She has also been busy compiling a book called "My Book.

My Words."

Mafia-Sauer said compiling the book was a labor of love, and chronicles Mafia's life - the essence of the man and the artist - in his own words, paintings and drawings.

At 7 p.m.

Wednesday Mafia-Sauer will make a presentation of the book "My Book.

My Words by Tony Mafia at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, 400 W.

Beale St.

In addition to the book Mafia-Sauer will talk about the artist, and there will be an exclusive showing of a few paintings and drawings by Tony Mafia, she said.