Brooklyn Boro

Federal court gallery gives voice to autistic artist

July 8, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joseph DeCandido (second from right) poses with his family during the opening of his solo show at Brooklyn’s federal courthouse. Pictured from left: Joseph’s father Frank DeCandido, his mother Jennie DeCandido, Joseph and his sister Elizabeth DeCandido. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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Joseph DeCandido, a 22-year-old autistic artist from Staten Island, drew more than 100 judges, court employees, friends and family members to the lobby of the federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday for the opening reception of his show “See My Voice.”

“I think this has got to be the greatest turnout that we have ever had for an exhibit in this courthouse,” said the court’s Chief Judge Dora L. Irizarry. “It really warms my heart to welcome you to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and for the opening of our 18th exhibit in our Charles P. Sifton Art Gallery.”

DeCandido was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and has used his artwork as a communication outlet since he was young. He learned to hone his craft by watching the late Bob Ross on television.

While he was still in kindergarten, DeCandido won an honorable mention in the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures contest. His work was displayed at the Staten Island Children’s Museum during its annual art show from 2012 to 2015. In 2013 and 2014, he hosted his first two solo shows — “New York City Sights and Neighborhoods” and “Lighthouse Mania” — at the Pepperjack Grill in Staten Island.

DeCandido currently attends the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program at the College of Staten Island and hopes to be a famous artist one day, he said. His artwork was brought to the attention of Judge Raymond J. Dearie and the courthouse by a court officer who had seen his work.

“Mr. DeCandido is passionate about his work and is an inspiration to his family and friends,” Irizarry said. “He dreams of becoming a famous artist so he can raise awareness about autism. I think he’s well on his way.

“We are grateful for your ability to inspire us, to see not only the beauty that surrounds us, but also the potential of all people and encourage it to blossom,” Irizarry continued.

Many of DeCandido’s paintings feature maps from a bird’s eye view and landscapes and buildings. His display at the courthouse also featured pieces from his “Lighthouse Mania” show and many scenes from Italian streets.

“We are over the moon,” said Joseph’s father Frank DeCandido. “We’ve had three shows now, and the support from our family and friends has been tremendous. There is really nothing that we can say.”

The show will be on display in the Charles P. Sifton Gallery located on the first floor of the federal courthouse located at 225 Cadman Plaza East. It will be shown through the summer.


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