Artists for Autism: a Collective with a Cause

September 7, 2012 |

Local artist Chris Leon’s paintings are bright graphic portraits, some in a pinwheel of colors, others in high-contrast monochrome.  They’re focused, with bold edges, in the highly relatable style of graphic novels.  Leon also gives art lessons to kids aged 5-15, and when he began working with a three-year-old autistic child, something clicked.  “I was blown away at how amazing these kids are and how they function,” Leon said.  “The thing that really impressed me about working with this autistic kid was how close artists are to autistic people.  When I get focused on something I zone in, I want to be left alone; I’m looking at this kid and he’s concentrating on spelling ‘xenophobe’ and he’s only three years old. It’s very, very cool.”  Leon wanted to do something, and when he related his experience to fellow artist Zombilly Ray (who himself has an autistic child) the pair decided to put on a benefit for autism.  “It started off as a little brainchild and it’s kind of blown up,” Leon says of the event that now involves dozens of artists, musicians and vendors.

Artists for Autism, which will take place on September 28th at the Surly Wench Pub, will showcase new work from twenty artists in one night of live bands, DJs, and a silent auction filled with artwork and donations from Razor’s Edge and Lindy’s on 4th.  All proceeds go to Autism Speaks, a nationwide organization dedicated to research, awareness and advocacy for autism.  Just a few days after putting up a Facebook page, Leon was flooded with artists asking to contribute.  “We have a ton of artists who either have a child with autism or know someone very close to them who does: Janeen Bode, Victoria Belle, Stephanie Lewis; I was really amazed at how close this show is to home for a lot of people.”

Zombilly Ray, like so many of the other artists involved, is creating a new body of work for the show focusing on his son and six other children he knows with autism.  “My son has a fixation with cars; he can’t survive without toy cars near him all the time,” Ray says. “I’m going to do colorful portraits, sketching them out, and they’re going to be in with what their world is.”

His son will be surrounded by cars.  On Friday night, September 28th, these artists hope to surround their audience with art and music, and bring about more awareness for children with autism.


Artists for Autism, gallery and silent auction

Presented by Chris Leon, Zombilly Ray and Stephanie Johnston
Friday, September 28th at Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. 4th Ave.
8pm-1am, $7

Featuring artists Robin Westenhiser, Janeen Bode, Victoria Belle, Mark Matlock, Ruben Moreno, Jessica Gonzales, Stephanie Lewis, and many more. Music and beats by Broken Arrow, Nate Way, Full Story At Midnight, and DJ Kindaphresh. All proceeds go to Autism Speaks. For more information, find Artists for Autism on Facebook.

Photo: artwork by Mark Matlock

Category: Arts