PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – The works of Alex Maskeet, a self-taught artist with severe autism whose parents live in New Rochelle, were on display Wednesday night along with a documentary about him, entitled “Breaking Barriers, the Art of Alex Masket.” The event was sponsored by Special Education Parent Teacher Association Pleasantville and ARC of Westchester at the Jacob Burns Film Center.
“Tonight signifies his emergence on a personal level and as an artist,” said Masket’s mother, Elaine, after the showing of the film.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for him to share his art and enjoy other people’s appreciation of his gift,” she said. Masket’s father, Steven, said he first noticed his son’s artistic ability in his Lego creations.
The event featured a film about Masket followed by a panel discussion with Elaine Masket and others, including Richard Swierat, executive director of Arc of Westchester, and Beth Mount, a consultant and event moderator. The packed auditorium then viewed Masket’s work first-hand during a reception and opening of an exhibition of his work. The artist’s pieces have appeared in more than a dozen solo and group shows as well as magazines.
“When doing the planning, he works quickly, but it’s all very specific,” Elaine Masket said.
Masket’s work consists of creativity and a sophisticated understanding of light, color, and form, according to information provided by the Jacob Burns Film Center. The pieces are unconstrained by his severe autism, which does inhibit his ability to communicate verbally, the center said.
“It’s not often that we get to combine a film, or discussion as well as some art upstairs,” said Steve Apkon, executive director of film center.
The short documentary, directed by Dennis Connors, provides an introduction to Masket as an artist and asks what artistic communication and the creative impulse are all about.
Masket’s work will be on display at the exhibit until April 4. The next focus will be a film festival for the documentary April 14.
Masket lives in ARC of Westchester’s Piemont Group Home in Peekskill, but comes home to his parent’s house in New Rochelle to work on his art. Before this, Masket spent the majority of this life in New Jersey, followed by New York City.