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Until a doctor said “autism,” Sweeney had never heard the word. Thanks to his parents’ persistence, he remained mainstreamed in school. In 10th grade, as he grew more isolated and unchallenged, they enrolled him in a small high school that was a better fit for his learning style. But friendships continue to elude him even now.
“It’s a constant source of pain and frustration for him,” Sweeney said. Watching him create art, or talk about it, is something else entirely. “He gets in this room and people start asking him about his art and he becomes this other person,” she said.
Jameson, who has an older sister and two younger stepbrothers, lives independently in Hopkins. At 25, he graduated from Dowling College with a degree in art and sociology and is now artist-in-residence at Artist League Studios, a Twin Cities think tank offering business models for emerging artists, created by well-known painter Edward Lentsch.
Lentsch, who has become Jameson’s mentor, was in Palm Desert, Calif., in early April for a weeklong show at Re-View Art Gallery featuring about two dozen of Jameson’s pieces. Many sold, ranging from $400 to $1,200. A producer from PBS was there to film Jameson and document the show, which was fittingly titled, “Oh, the Possibilities.”
“Art transformed his life into the ability to make an incredible contribution to the world,” said Lentsch, who credits Erik’s Ranch with being a big part of that transformation.
“Any parent of an autistic child will see him as a symbol of hope.”
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