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Lufkin man highlights possibilities for artists with special needs

Lufkin man highlights possibilities for artists with special needs
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 1:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 10:33 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - When you go to the Museum of East Texas, you will see work on display from artist Jim Leysath.

Jim took up art later in life after retirement as a grocery store worker, first painting in a group class in Beaumont, and then eventually working with Stephen F. Austin State University and Professor Shaun Roberts. Jim fell in love with painting immediately.

“That’s when I suddenly realized I was an artist,” Jim said. “By surprise, just boom, I was an artist. And there you go.”

Jim has special needs and lives with his brother Charlie and his sister-in-law Maggie in Nacogdoches. Maggie is an assistant professor of art education at SFA and shares her workshop with Jim. His connections and pure talent have led to this exhibition at the East Texas Museum.

“This is what happens when you focus on what a person can do, not what they can’t do,” Maggie said, referencing something Charlie says often. “So I would say that pretty much encapsulates Jim and his ability to move past obstacles.”

Jim spends a lot of time at the Caddo Mounds where he was there during the 2019 tornado. He doesn’t like talking about that day, but he did draw inspiration for one of his paintings. Jim has also recaptured the beauty of the Chicago skyline on a recent vacation, and the azalea garden in Nacogdoches. Maggie hopes others will draw inspiration from Jim’s creativity

“He wants all special people to know that they are artists, too,” Maggie said.

When asked what advice he has for any aspiring artists, regardless of their ability, Jim keeps it simple.

“Put it in your mind and just do it,” Jim said. “Get out there and do it. That’s what I did.”

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