LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The white walls of the Dere Gallery on Melrose have displayed the works of such acclaimed artists as Andy Warhol.
These days, the walls are graced by the works of a local talent winning his own praise.
As CBS2’s Suzie Suh reports, Nicky Kontaxis, 21, of Rancho Mirage finds inspiration in every brushstroke.
The fact he has autism makes his story all the more inspirational to those who hear it.
At 14-months-old, his parents said their son was diagnosed with an extensive brain tumor, which caused him to have anywhere from five to 10 seizures a day.
His parents estimate that Nicky has endured more than 40,000 seizures in his life, along with a number of surgeries.
With his autism, he also cannot speak and has difficulty with motor skills.
Despite his setbacks, he has a passion for painting — bright, vivid, alive colors inform his canvas.
A career as an artist seemed rather unlikely but it came about when his parents were struggling to figure out what he could do for a living.
“His seizures really handicapped him from having a job,” mom Krisann Kontaxis said, “because it’s hard to just fall in the middle of a job. It’s very dangerous.”
With the help of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Woodland Hills his passion and career grew.
At this writing, he’s sold 40 paintings, and with his work on wider display, that number should increase.
While he has carved out a life for himself as a painter, his parents have a simpler wish for their son.
“I hope he never changes, actually. I love how he is,” says his father, Euthym. “And part of who he is makes everyone around him a little better.”
Kontaxis’ show is at the gallery Saturday from 5-9 p.m., and a portion of the proceeds will go to autism care and treatment.