Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First gallery show for Ohio man uses art to deal with his dyslexia and bipolar disorder

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Ever since he was old enough to grasp a pencil, Kyle Boganwright has communicated through his drawings.

Whimsical creations help Boganwright work around the frustration of dyslexia and harness the restlessness of bipolar disorder. The young man and his art are the closest of friends.

Still, it managed to surprise him this week.

"This is a great feeling," Boganwright, 20, said, taking in the joy of his first gallery showing. "I've always tried to give to people with my art. Now, it's like my art is giving back to me."

Mirrors, Artwork by Kyle Boganwright opened Sept. 22 at the Fresh A.I.R. Gallery and soon posted brisk sales.

"It's probably a record-breaker for a Fresh A.I.R. opening, or very close to it," said Myken Pullins, spokeswoman for the 6-year-old gallery.

Boganwright's mom, Julie, is gathering more pieces to satisfy enthusiastic collectors.

Operated by the mental-health agency Southeast Inc., Fresh A.I.R. exhibits the works of artists affected by mental illness or substance-abuse disorders.

The academic success that often eluded Boganwright blossomed in art classes at Hilliard Davidson High School.

The graduate won national recognition and a scholarship last year when he took a top prize in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a prestigious competition that had been won by Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

"Kyle is only the second central Ohio winner in more than 40 years," said his high-school art teacher and mentor, Dan Gerdeman.

Boganwright attends Columbus College of Art and Design. He thinks his art really took off a few years ago when he stopped taking the medications that made him feel drowsy and dull.

Although he and his family must monitor his condition carefully, he feels great and just got his first apartment.

"His stuff just pops against the wall," said Sandra Stephenson, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health. She was among those admiring Boganwright's pieces at the gallery reception.

One of his former principals, Chuck Page, also came to the opening. He said he's happy that Boganwright stayed true to his talent instead of worrying about how to fit in.

"Many young people want to be the round peg in the round hole," Page said. "Not Kyle. His imagination is larger than that."