International visual artist Jimmy Reagan
Jimmy Reagan is an international visual artist who has been creating artwork since 2009. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1993, the once healthy and chatty toddler, lost his words and fell into illness. Shortly thereafter, Jimmy was diagnosed with Regressive Onset Autism and Mast Cell Disease. In 2009 after being homebound due to severe illness, Jimmy found his voice. It would not be a verbal voice. It would be a visual voice illustrating his view of the world through art. Jimmy’s mother, Peg Schneeman Reagan, made note cards of Jimmy’s drawings as a thank you for his doctors. The next thing they knew, Jimmy’s artwork and view point would gather international recognition. While Jimmy cannot have a conversation with you, Peg share his story and creates context for his work. While Jimmy lives with autism and serious health issues, he is not defined by these diagnosis. He is first and foremost an artist.
Peg and Jimmy’s Dad, Brian, co-founded the University of Minnesota Autism Clinic in 2000. Jimmy was their first patient.
What kind of subjects does Jimmy likes to paint about? What is his painting style?
Jimmy’s subject matters are typically portraits of people and animals. He also loves landscapes especially ones with water. His portraiture is quite interesting as the subjects typically look directly at the viewer. The eye gaze in his portraits are often piercing in people and humorous in animals. His portraits always evoke emotion. Eye contact for people with autism is often illusive. Jimmy struggles to make eye contact as well. But when he wants to make a point, he looks directly at you just like he illustrates in his portraiture. Jimmy struggles to find words and verbally communicate. But, his artwork speaks volumes.
Jimmy’s painting style is expressive. He is surely influenced by van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse. His work is full of color and movement. He often uses small stokes of paint or oil pastel he calls “Tick Mark”.
When is the next exhibition and what will you be showing or featuring?
We just closed a large solo show at THE Gallery Minneapolis in Le Meridien Chambers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The show opened in October and closed January 16th, 2020. It was the largest exhibition of Jimmy’s carvings on foam that are painted in acrylic. It also included many paintings, a life size self-portrait sculpture and mono prints on paper. 2020 will be Jimmy’s fourth year with work at the LA Art Show in Los Angeles opening February 5th through the 9th, 2020. BG Gallery in Santa Monica, CA has carried Jimmy’s work for a number of years and is bringing his work to the LA Art Show.
How frequently does Jimmy create his art? Which is his favorite media or color(s)?
Jimmy works every day. He works in many different mediums and we present him with new opportunities often. He loves process. When he first began making clay sculpture pieces, he created a wire figure and fixed colored clay to the wire. The figures were quite interesting. Much to our surprise, he peeled all the clay off the wire and created balls of colored clay. Well, this was fun.... but, didn’t end up as anything permanent.
He loves creating foam carvings. Some of these end up as mono prints and others are developed as finished works. He uses simple tools like a box cutter to carve on foam. In some of his works, he makes a cut in the foam and them snaps the foam off by hand. This process leaves loads of texture. He often uses large amounts of paint which creates texture in his paintings.
What is his favorite color? It’s COLOR! Most people who see his work comment on the color. Jimmy puts colors together that many people would not do naturally. His color creates emotion that is deeply felt by the viewer.
How important is living in a city that appreciates art?
We are so fortunate to live in the Twins Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. We have the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), Walker Art Center, Weismann Museum at the U of MN, Russian Museum, Swedish Museum, Minnesota Museum of Art and wonderful inclusive arts communities in NE Minneapolis and in Downtown St. Paul. Jimmy lives in a very supportive arts community. He is a regular at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Weisman.
Will Jimmy be working on any solo show? When and where?
We are currently curating a showing for the Balsam Arts Gallery in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. This, too, is a solo show and will host oil pastels on paper, mono prints, carvings on foam and paintings. We expect to have between 20 and 30 pieces on exhibit. The exhibition opens May 1st and runs through July 31st, 2020.