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Peg's Gallery art exhibit recognizes autism challenges and special gifts

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: April 2, 2017 12:07 AM
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The talent of three siblings is on display at Peg's Gallery, 10 W. Streetsboro St. but only a few days remain.

The exhibit "His Ability: Autism Seen Through His Sisters' Eyes" closes April 4 but recognizes April as Autism Awareness Month.

Claudia Olaes, 18, created painting and artwork while Isabelle Olaes, 16, used photography to capture the journey of their brother Ethan Olaes, 17, who has autism and limited speech.

Ethan also has great gifts including perfect pitch and began playing the piano when he was 8 years old, Claudia said. Ethan can play eight instruments and attends the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He played for guests at the reception March 29.

Parents Carm and Rowena live in Hudson and Oberlin and the sisters attend Oberlin High School.

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Claudia began taking art classes two years ago and said she was inspired by her brother.

"I love all the mediums and experiment with everything," Claudia said. "I like to see what I can create."

The true art is the family story, Claudia said. "A Different Dream" tells the story about the loss of a her father's dream for his son and how he dealt with grief.

"Life doesn't always turn out the way we expected," Claudia said. "Maybe there's a bigger dream."

Life is about compassion and helping others, Isabelle said.

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"We have to have the attitude of never surrendering," Isabelle said. "Our family appreciates the little victories in life."

Some of the artwork on display includes "Imperfection" by Isabelle and shows four pool tables with Ethan sinking all the balls. One of his gifts is being able to figure out angles.

"He can see the angles and sink 15 balls in a row," Carm said. "He also can run a mile in less than five minutes."

Ethan has played at Carnegie Hall and raises money for several causes, Carm said. In addition, Ethan is preparing for a triathlon.

Claudia's artwork includes "About Time" which features a blue clock.

Ethan's clock sits on the corner of Main Street in downtown Oberlin. The clock hasn't worked for decades and was given to Ethan. With help from friends, he is restoring it.

A screen print shows four violins and is titled "True Colors" by Claudia to represent Ethan's musical abilities. A chalk pastel is more playful with a young Ethan beneath a yellow towel titled "Autistic Brother for Sale."

Rick Kellar, president of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, told those attending the reception to read the stories beside each photograph and work of art.

"It's about art, but it's always about the story behind the art," Kellar said, "As you enjoy what these two wonderful ladies put together, read the inspiration behind the art."

The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation's mission states "To improve the lives of people with serious mental illness by investing in innovative projects in Northeast Ohio having national transformational impact."

"We know the challenges that [autism] brings to a family," Kellar said.

Sometimes the division and difficulty can break a family apart according to Kellar. But the Olaes family has taken Ethan's ability and made it a gift not only for his family, but they have shared it with everybody.

"It's inspirational," he said. "To those out there who have these challenges, they share how they got there."

The next exhibit at Peg's Gallery is Hilary H. Sheeter's Hudson's Sister City Landsberg, Bavaria, Germany plus some scenes from Austria and the historic Rhineland from April 12 through June 6 with a reception May 3 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Peg's Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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