David Garibaldi paints in Sacramento

The auditorium pulsed to the sound of the music, the stage lights flashed and panned the audience, and 29-year-old Sacramento artist David Garibaldi ran onto the stage, clapping his hands, and grabbed the microphone.

The man who’d got his start illegally painting graffiti but who now travels the world performing his unique “music and color” show had just reached the ambitious goal of raising $1 million for charity by the time he turned 30.

“I realized that I could take a couple hundred dollars of materials and a few minutes on stage and turn it into something that had value for people,” he told an auditorium full of students at his alma mater, Elk Grove’s Sheldon High School. “I wanted to donate $1 million to charity before I turned 30, and we met that goal about five minutes ago.”

His style of painting to the beats of hip-hop music brought him international fame, and he’s not only performed on “America’s Got Talent,” but also spent time performing in Europe, Asia and across the United States.

Fame and fortune didn’t take him too far from home, however. He attributes much of his success to his mentor, Sheldon High School teacher Shawn Sullivan, who told him to be tenacious and inspired him to pursue his art.

Sheldon High School Principal Paula Duncan said Garibaldi’s talent is without question, but just as important is his character.

“We didn’t call him. He called us,” she said. “He wanted to do this for the kids.”

Garibaldi’s show captivated the students, who roared with excitement as he jumped, spun and slapped paint onto canvas with his brushes and his hands in a way that leads the audience to wonder if what he’s doing has any rhyme or reason. But when he’s finished, there’s no question – he’s a master.

After the show, Garibaldi used his easygoing manner to tell the students to follow their passions and never give up. It served him well, and he said it can serve them well too.

David Garibaldi’s story will be featured on the cover of the upcoming Sacramento Visitors’ Guide from the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, due out in February.