My name is Josh Handler, and I am an artist & trailblazer of sorts. I was one of the first participants in Matheny’s Arts Access Program. I have been a pioneer of the program since it started. 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. I love creating works in digital art as well as acrylic paint. My 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).
As an independent artist, I often create paintings by using my own hands. I also utilize the Arts Access facilitation process, during which I direct the artist facilitator as to which colors, shapes, and other elements I would like used in the painting.
State-of- the-art software programs including Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter give me the additional tools I need to design digital art in my own definitive style. I enjoy what I do and everybody comments on my digital paintings and other paintings as unique and interesting. Some people think I’m mysterious because my art is unique for what I do.
Living Life Independently
Also distinctive are the titles I come up with for my paintings. Some of my most recent work has been titled “Rolled Over Tomato” and “Frogs Jumping Off Lily Pads.” My 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 my sensibilities, talent and humor shine.
Born in New York, I spent most of my life growing up in New Jersey. I came to live at Matheny in the late 1960s and was one of the youngest clients to live at the facility. Personable and friendly, I have thrived in a number of community settings. My continued independence has led me 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.
The Sky is the Limit for Me
I am 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. 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 me. I am also working on an autobiography. I’m looking forward to all the things that are coming up.
Arts Access Program
Matheny’s Arts Access program provides individuals with disabilities with the opportunity to create art without boundaries. Through the use of innovative systems and techniques, clients can take part in the visual, performing and literary arts. Participants choose everything from the paint color and brush stroke to a dance or theatrical movement to the written word.
The program makes this possible by bringing participants together with professional artist facilitators. The facilitators consciously maintain a sense of neutrality throughout the creative process. They provide a process for the client artists to create works that are purely their own.
Art Garden CSA
The Art Garden CSA (Community Supported Art) is based on the model of Community Supported Agriculture programs. The community is made up of any individual or group who purchase one of the available shares. Each share contains ten pieces of art. At organized "pick-up" events, buyers will have the opportunity to meet the artists.
During the year, the featured artists will work with the Art Garden team to take part in vocational practices such as self-promotion, relationship building and social media. CSA, which is a Kessler-supported project, is a partnership between Arts Access and Arts Unbound.