“Through Jimmy’s Eyes” exhibit coming to Balsam Lake

BALSAM LAKE – Art lovers are invited to come see the world through Jimmy’s eyes.
Jimmy Reagan is a young, internationally recognized artist who speaks through his art. And he has much to say.
Born July 6, 1993, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jimmy was independent, capable and healthy as a baby. Then, at 2-1/2 years old, he was diagnosed with regressive onset complex autism, which means that Jimmy’s communication skills slowly declined and his ability to communicate diminished. “He could no longer say my name,” explained his mother, Peg, and he “slipped into a world by himself.”
Jimmy struggled physically as well. By 14 years old, due to chronic health issues, he could no longer attend school. He was often sick and unable to communicate his pain. It would be years before he was diagnosed with mast-cell disease, a painful and chronic autoimmune condition triggered by food and environmental factors. Through surgery and diet, the family managed Jimmy’s condition, yet he continues to require 24-hour care.
As the middle of five children, Jimmy’s early caregivers were his siblings and family members. They served as teachers, therapists, behaviorists, researchers and friends. Through their guidance, Jimmy became an enthusiastic reader. One day, when he was 16 years old, a therapist asked him to draw a page from a magazine. “So, he’s drawing page 32; then he’s drawing page 36; then he’s going through National Geographic, and he’s starting to draw all these pages,” said Peg.
It was a breakthrough.
Since 2009, Jimmy has used his art as his voice. His artwork has been exhibited in the United States and Europe. The young and talented artist brings his perspective of the world to life in his artwork.
Jimmy’s favorite subjects are portraits, both people and animals. His paintings often depict a clear, sometimes striking direct gaze. Eye contact is an interesting and reoccurring theme in his artwork. His expressive and inventive art is innocent and sophisticated, bright and intense. Electric colors are prominent in his paintings, as are short lines he defines as “tick marks.” His charming and unique designs grace products and clothing.
Jimmy remains verbal but nonconversational and struggles with health issues. Yet his style is constantly changing. “He’s come a long way from being a kid that would only lay on the couch to somebody who is able to go places, complete tasks, and create this really interesting work,” Peg said. “Our goal is to keep introducing new things to him and see what he does with it.”
An exhibit of Jimmy’s artwork is on display at Balsam Arts from May 2 through July 31. Stop in to see the world “Through Jimmy’s Eyes.”

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