Meet JR

Atop a lonely hill they live, year-round.

Those who came to our studio, those who experienced the shocking blast of uncompromised individual creative power, ignited a firestorm at the residential care facility.

All the while there was a young man who wanted more than anything to get in on the action, on the breakthrough, on the breakout. All of those now painting with us had managed to get to or be brought to our studio. Unlike these, his friends, JR had no way to motivate his wheelchair. No joystick, no pressure switches, no use of his hands, no use of his voice. He had no alphabet board with which to create a message describing his fervent desire to get to our program.

And so it was we did not know he was there that first year as he filled with yearning and frustration.

We will never know how he managed to get an aide to wheel him down to our studio that evening after dinner.

There he was, his small body shaking violently in the baby buggy of his reclined wheelchair. Wriggling. Sweating. Grinding his teeth so they shrieked, some vomit issuing from between his lips.

We got him to show us his signals for yes and no. Eyes up: yes. Eyes sideways: no.

“Eyes up is yes, eyes sideways is your no. Is that right?” JR’s knee shot up. His eyes shot up. “Eyes up and knee up is your yes?” Eyes up, knee up. Emphatically.

As JR quaked, we asked, “Do you need a nurse?”

Signal for ‘No’.

“Do you need your aide?

Emphatic desperate signal: No.’

“You don’t want us to call you a nurse?”


I asked, “Do you want to paint?”

Up shot his knee. Up shot his eyes that filled with tears.

He had finally gotten to us.  He finally made it. And with us, JR would become a treasured member of our family on fire. 

Part Two