Artist Josh Handler is a trailblazer of sorts. He was one of the first participants in Matheny’s Arts Access Program. “I have been a pioneer of the program since it started,” said Josh. “I love doing it. It makes me feel good.”
Arts Access, a fine arts program for individuals with developmental disabilities, offers the disciplines of painting, dance, digital art, and writing to its clients. Josh loves creating works in digital art as well as acrylic paint. His art has been displayed at Grounds for Sculpture, Wharton Public Library, Visiting Nurse Association, and Full Circle (Arts Access’ annual gallery showcase and stage production).
An independent artist, Josh often creates paintings by using his own hands. He also utilizes the Arts Access facilitation process, during which Josh directs the artist facilitator as to which colors, shapes, and other elements he would like used in the painting.
State-of-the-art software programs including Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter give Josh the additional tools he needs to design digital art in his own definitive style.
“I enjoy what I do and everybody comments on my digital paintings and other paintings as unique and interesting,” Josh shared. “Some people think I’m mysterious because my art is unique for what I do.”
Also distinctive are the titles Josh comes up with for his paintings. Some of his most recent work has been titled “Rolled Over Tomato” and “Frogs Jumping Off Lily Pads.” His paintings are colorful, fanciful and fun. At first glance, the viewer appears to be looking at one thing. But on a closer view, one sees the subtle nuances that make Josh’s sensibilities, talent and humor shine.
Born in New York, Josh spent most of his life growing up in New Jersey. He came to live at Matheny in the late 1960s and, according to Josh, was one of the youngest clients to live at the facility. Personable and friendly, Josh has thrived in a number of community settings. His continued independence has led him to employment at Bristol Glenn Assisted Living (delivering mail and helping with crafts), Somerset County Board of Elections (assisting with the compiling of addresses and party affiliations), the Bridgewater Library (volunteering to arrange the adult comic books and graphic novels by alphabetical order) and other positions.
Josh is also one of 10 artists selected to participate in the second year of the CSA (Community Supported Art Garden). Done in partnership between Arts Access and Arts Unbound, the Kessler-supported program connects artists with disabilities with the art-buying public. Each artist is offered a path to employment as a professional artist, receiving vocational training, and given a stipend to create 50 pieces of art.
“I am really excited about CSA,” said Josh. “It gives me the opportunity to spread my artwork around the state. I will be doing limited edition pieces of my choosing on what gets put on, which is going to be awesome.” For more information, log on to www.artgardencsa.org.
The sky is the limit for this trailblazing artist, who is also working on his autobiography. “I’m looking forward to all the things that are coming up,” he added. “This will be great.“