Singing in the Rain: Artwork by Eight Autistic Students Exhibited

April 20, 2018

Explosive abstracts, delicate portraits and Marvel-worthy comic illustrations are among the artworks on display at the Bean Runner Café in Peekskill, all part of an exhibit by artists on the autism spectrum.

The show, which was the brainchild of Peekskill artist Wilfredo Morel and artist Donna Mikkelsen, is on display through May 20, and will have a reception Saturday, April 21, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the café at 201 South Division Street in Peekskill.
It features works by six students at the Walden School at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, one former BOCES student and a SUNY Purchase student. The show was curated by Morel and Walden art teacher Jesse Steiner.

“One of the functions of the exhibit is to create an awareness among the parents, and the community, of the talents, the genius of the kids,” said Morel. “This is us. What a great celebration.”

The show is proof that there are no limits to how one can create art.

Tarek Ghaley created a print by gluing broken pieces of linguini to a sheet of cardboard, rolling paint on it and pressing the cardboard to paper. Another print was created by stretching rubber bands around a lunch tray, painting the bands and then snapping them against a piece of paper inserted on the tray.

Christian Irizarry, whose pencil drawings resemble comic book characters, uses whatever is available, creating some of his works on the backs of desk calendar pages or school worksheets. Irizarry’s drawings of characters before and after a great, comic superhero battle are incredibly detailed and engaging.

“Christian is an artist…if you took away any and all instruction, he would continue to make art because that is what he is driven to do,” said Steiner, noting how his work parallels aspects of popular culture.

Gabriel Adame, the Purchase College student, is self-directed, painting bold abstract works in vivid colors. Evan Wolfsdorf, a former BOCES student, will not only display his art including a recreation of Edvard Munch’s famous “Scream” painting, he will also perform a tap dance to “Singing in the Rain” at the opening reception.

Joel Soler’s work focuses on organization, with one canvas representing the multiplication tables from one through 30 and another representing a color wheel. Steiner said, “I love the way he takes something we all know and presents it in a way that makes us look at it differently.”

Alexis Aguiar drew portraits with minimal prompting from Steiner, while Bella Levitz created one-of-a-kind prints using a gelatin plate and Frank Robinson worked with paint-soaked apples and grapes to create an abstract work.

The show was made possible by PNW BOCES, the Bean Runner Cafe and Arts 10566, a not-for-profit organization that aims to address the needs of Peekskill’s youth through the arts. Bean Runner Café is a Westchester venue for live jazz, blues, reggae, soca and singer/songwriters from across the country. The frames for the artworks were donated by Nadine Gordon-Taylor who maintains the Third Eye Studio in Peekskill.

“This type of show only happens with a lot of support from a lot of people. It speaks to the fact that as a BOCES we are deeply rooted in the communities we serve,” said Steiner.