Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's in a Signature?

Bobiam Gallery Uptown Minneapolis
Minnesota - Exhibition April 2013
On Sunday April 7th, 2013 Bobiam Gallery in Minneapolis hosted a reception for Jimmy.  He is exhibiting at the gallery for the month of April. Several years ago, Jimmy was invited to be one of Bobiam’s first T-Shirt artists.  Last fall, Bill Farrell from Bobiam asked if Jimmy would consider an exhibition in their Minneapolis Gallery. 
Bobiam - 2nd floor Lagoon and Hennepin
Minneapolis, Minnesota 

We agreed and decided that April would be the right time.  I didn’t think about it until later that April is Autism Awareness month and April 2nd is designated by the United Nations as World Autism Day. So, April is a good month for Jimmy to show his work.  
Goodbye Ron - on exhibition
at the Good Purpose Gallery
Lee, MA April and May 2013
He is also exhibiting in Lee Massachusetts in April and May at the Good Purpose Gallery and will have his painting Maggie Live Auctioned on April 28th to raise money for the University of St Thomas Scholarship fund.

The Bobiam reception was attended by a nice sized crowd….some folks I knew and many that I did not.  Jimmy’s speech pathologist from elementary school was in attendance.  She is a very skilled and open minded woman whom I’ve always respected.  She worked with Jimmy when we were full of hope that he would recover his language.  She walked through the Gallery surprised and enjoying Jimmy’s work.  She and I were talking in front of one of his paintings and she remarked “look at his signature.  It’s the same as
it was when I worked with him.”  She paused in thought…..what are we teaching? She and I remember regular discussions with school staff about the importance of using upper and lower case letters….working on cursive….does it really matter? No, it doesn’t. Was making sure that Jimmy capitalized letters properly or learned cursive helping him to communicate?  The question might be where should we focus our time and spend our resources? What tools should measure success?  What goals are important? What will create future value?

Man with Pipe - signature on face
Dad signature in the eye
Jimmy’s signature in his artwork is unique in the color he signs in and the locations where he signs…..To those of us in the mainstream, his signature is present in very curious locations like in the eye of a subject as in his piece titled Dad  or on the face as in Man with Pipe or in a vase of flowers as in 
Dr Barnes - can you see the
signature in the flowers?
Dr. Barnes.  To Jimmy, these locations make perfect sense. To many of the rest of us…..shouldn’t it be in the lower right or left corners? Isn’t that what we were taught? 

Last year, I received a call from a man who had attended WineFest, the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital event where Jimmy had been the Featured Artist.  This fellow runs a division of a large national company in the Twins Cities. When he called, he told me that he was driving to work one day and saw the WineFest billboard that had Jimmy’s painting CafĂ© at Night on it.
Cafe at Night - University of Minnesota
Amplatz Children's Hopsital
WineFest No 17
Featured Artist
He noted the artwork and wanted to know who the artist was…..he loved the painting. So, he googled WineFest to see the painting in full view.  He thought….now that is an interesting signature?????It looks so different….perhaps, child like yet the painting is so sophisticated and full of vibrant color.  So, he googled Jimmy……and learned about the artist.  He attended WineFest and was struck by both Jimmy’s artwork and his challenges.  It was the art and Jimmy’s unique signature that attracted this man’s attention.  This experience had
Jimmy Reagan on the roof top of Seven
restaurant in Downtown Minneapolis
with one of his billboards.
such a profound impact on this man that he asked me to come and talk with some of his employees.  It opened his eyes to something totally unexpected and valuable. 

So….what’s in a signature?  Changing minds and attitudes? I hope so. What does Jimmy’s signature say about him? Who he is?  He is an artist? He doesn’t see life in a conventional way and that’s okay……in fact, it’s beautiful and valuable.
Jimmy Reagan with Target Corp employees
at Sunfish Cellars for Jimmy's Erik's Minnesota
Adventures tour.
Coloring contest winner selection

Jimmy’s artwork with his unique signature has raised over $25,000 this year for organizations in the Twins Cities.

What’s in your signature?