A lot has changed in David Garibaldi's life since he appeared last May as a guest artist at a Fresno fundraiser.
And what would the biggest change be?
Only a little ol' TV show known as "America's Got Talent," on which the performance painter wowed the country by transforming a black canvas into a huge portrait of Albert Einstein in just a couple of minutes.
Garibaldi didn't win the competition, but his fourth-place showing was great national exposure for him.
"Definitely a lot has happened to me in the last year," he says in an upbeat phone interview. "When I go to shows now, people recognize me. But I think the one thing that hasn't changed is what I want to do with my art."
All this makes it a coup of sorts for The Foundation @ FCOE, which landed Garibaldi for a return engagement to "heARTbeat: The Encore." The Saturday event at the Downtown Club is a fundraiser dinner for the nonprofit foundation arm of the Fresno County Office of Education.
In the time since Garibaldi's last Fresno visit, the Sacramento-based artist has appeared on the "Today" show and ESPN, performed at NBA games and landed a prime slot at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for New Year's Eve. He has helped raise nearly $1 million for such nonprofits as the Special Olympics, the Easter Seals and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
He also is preparing for a seven-week run at the Palazzo in Las Vegas as part of "America's Got Talent Live," which begins Monday.
Back in May, however, most people attending "heARTbeat" had no idea what to expect with Garibaldi on the bill.
"It was a real leap of faith," remembers Robert Bullwinkel, visual and performing arts coordinator for the Fresno County Office of Education. "He had some great looking videos posted on YouTube, but he'd never been on TV."
Then Garibaldi started his high-energy act, which includes painting, music, choreography and charisma, with the end result of portraits quickly coming to life on black canvases.
"When he came on, it was like an electric current jolted around the room," Bullwinkel says. "It's amazing to see those faces emerge out of the darkness."
Last year Garibaldi painted John Lennon, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and Albert Einstein. This year's selections are a closely guarded secret, although Bullwinkel did post a Facebook poll asking which female icons Garibaldi should paint this year.
Needless to say, he will get paid more this time for his Fresno appearance, though Bullwinkel couldn't give the amount.
One reason why Garibaldi is such a good fit for educational fundraising is that he has his own compelling storyline to share.
An important figure in Garibaldi's life is Shawn Sullivan, his art teacher at Sacramento's Sheldon High School.
"At the time I met him, I was doing graffiti," Garibaldi says. "I remember when I met him and showed him some of my stuff. He said, 'Do you want to pay to do this, or do you want to get paid?' "
They made a deal: Garibaldi agreed to spend less time on the streets and more studying painting.
"He really taught me how to see the world differently," Garibaldi says of Sullivan. "He was and is a profound influence on me."
True to his message of confidence and inspiration, Garibaldi will talk Saturday afternoon about his turnaround to county high school students at an invitation-only event at the Fresno Art Museum.
As his art progressed, Garibaldi drew inspiration from Denny Dent, considered the father of performance painting, who died in 2004. "I didn't see anyone from my generation doing it, so I just took it upon myself."
While Garibaldi's routines might seem impromptu, they're carefully prepared. He rehearses in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in Elk Grove.
In fact, Bullwinkel says Garibaldi's version of Einstein was even better at last year's "heARTbeat" than what TV audiences saw on "America's Got Talent" -- probably because the artist was able to spend a few more minutes on the execution.
Garibaldi says his dream is to continue his performances at a resident theater specially set up for his act, perhaps in Las Vegas or on Broadway.
At last year's "heARTbeat," Garibaldi casually mentioned to organizers that he would be on TV in just a few weeks, but he couldn't say more.
After this year's event, who's to say? One thing people in Fresno know: He's an artist going places.
heARTbeat featuring David Garibaldi, 7 p.m. Saturday, Downtown Club, 2120 Kern St., fcoefoundation.org/hearbeat, (559) 265-4036. $75-$100.