FORT WORTH, Texas — Before passengers at Texrail’s Mercantile Center Station in Fort Worth can catch the train, something else catches their eye.
A new, permanent art installation went up in January. With six murals, it’s hard to miss, but the one person who will never see it is the artist who painted it.
“I thought I was crazy,” artist John Bramblitt said. “I really did. I thought I was out of my mind when I started this. Because there weren’t blind painters really. It wasn’t a thing.”
Bramblitt wasn’t always blind. He lost his vision about 20 years ago after a series of severe seizures and Lyme disease.
Although it wasn’t the end of the world, it sure felt like it at the time.
“I was so angry, I was so depressed,” Bramblitt said. “I just had to get it out of my head, and the way I’d always done that is art.”
Bramblitt grew up drawing with pencils and charcoal, but he’d never really painted before going blind.
Soon enough, though, he got the feel of it by getting the feel of it.
“If you can navigate a city using your sense of touch, surely you can navigate a canvas,” he said.
Touching the paint helps Bramblitt know exactly where he is on the canvas.
It’s how he’s able to produce stunning art.
By all accounts, he’s the only blind muralist in America with murals not only at the Mercantile Station, but all over the country.
Eventually, all of his painting helped him see more clearly.
“Being blind didn’t make me different than everybody else,” he said. “Everybody has something in their life that just seems overwhelming or bigger than what they can handle themselves. It makes me just like everybody else. Once I realized that, it was like a weight had been lifted.”
That’s why, with his guide dog, Eagle, he shares his story as often as he can.
Whether or not you’re blind, and whether or not you can paint, the message is the same.
“You can do whatever you want,” Bramblitt said. “You can do something way better than a mural. For me, that’s my thing. But you can do whatever you want to do.”
From the art he creates, that’s pretty easy to see.