Artist of the Month – Joshua

Joshua comes from an artistic and musical family. As a child, he grew up on university campuses. This gave him opportunities to meet and spend time with students in many departments but particularly in the art and music departments and African Studies areas.  He was able to know interesting and talented people who spent time with him as friends and artists and gave him direction.

Joshua’s great-grandfather was a Presbyterian minister and became an artist in his 70’s after he retired and was well known for his unique paintings.  Joshua began artwork as a toddler with his grandmother, Carroll Lewis, who is an occupational therapist – painting, crafts and textiles appreciation and collecting, who used her expertise and love of the arts to expand Joshua’s world. Over the years she sent him special fabric, and wallpaper and upholstery sample books, for his projects and collection.  His Aunt Stacy has lived in France for 25 years, is an artist in several mediums and also teaches watercolor quilting, among many other techniques, in Paris.  She has taught Joshua about fabric and color.

Joshua’s cousin Mary Lewis brought Joshua fabric from Africa several years ago.  Over the years, Joshua has collected many beautiful examples of Kente cloth – exquisite cloths used for sacred and other special occasions in Africa and the United States.

Joshua’s grandmother also inspired his love for music and tells us that when Joshua was a baby, he loved listing to music in the car while they made their way around the hills of Pacific Palisades, CA.

For many years Joshua attended the Marnie Paul Art Center where he enjoyed painting, pottery and dance therapy. When Joshua entered junior high and throughout his high school and transitioning years, he was mainstreamed into art classes and felt a wonderful part of the art community in his schools.  He met many talented and helpful people along the way.  Every year students enjoyed being assigned as Joshua’s partner.  It was in high school that Joshua’s world really opened up and he was allowed to start using canvas for projects.  At home he was thrilled one year to get a table easel and a standing easel for Christmas!

Joshua has many hobbies and is involved in lots of activities.  He attends an inter-denominational Sunday School class at Bethany Methodist Church where he is a member of the chimes group that performs several times a year.  One year they won the Bishop’s Award for Excellence.  He also enjoys having a piano at home, took lessons when he was a child, and still likes to try mixing up notes and making a joyful noise. Joshua also enjoys attending the Austin Symphony where he has often sat in the front row near the strings. Last year he was thrilled to hear Andre Watts.

In addition, Joshua collects vintage Lenox vases, from eBay, to give to family and friends on holidays, birthdays, etc.  He has even found pieces from the 1920’s and 1930’s.

He is also a member of the Good Friends Social Club, where the main activity at their twice a month meetings and events is often dancing. Joshua enjoys bowling every Tuesday and is on a Special Olympics bowling team.

Joshua recently moved into a group home where his world has expanded and many new people have come into his life.  The most important aspect of Joshua’s transition and his anchor is his involvement with the Arc of the Arts Studio & Gallery.  His new friendships and opportunities for guidance and the genuine caring provided by the staff and volunteers’ at the studio and gallery have been pivotal in his succeeding in his new independence.

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