A featured artist in Santa Barbara author Debra Hosseini’s popular book, The Art of Autism, Jason Cantu, 28, had his first solo art show at TCRC’s office in San Luis Obispo. The show, All Over the Map, hung during the first quarter of 2014. This was the inaugural art show at the San Luis Obispo office, launching a new effort to showcase the artistic talents of people receiving services. Jason dedicated his show to Marianne Culver, TCRC Service Coordinator, in gratitude for helping him to plan his services, “and doing it with love and care.”

“In my early years, I always liked to draw maps, and drew on old maps, making new freeways, all the different interchanges, on-ramps and off ramps… it really intrigued me,” Jason recalled. When asked about the bird images of his work (“The Raven” and “Night Bird”) in the show, and whether they were a recurring theme, he responded, “What I most like to draw are maps. That’s what I was first interested in, growing up. I like to travel and get populations of towns. I have a very good memory. For example, the population of Fresno was 461,000 when I last went there.”

Jason uses a variety of mediums, including digital, in which he draws the maps and then scans them, adding color on the computer. Jason’s mother, Shawn Bostrom, said that Jason became interested in maps and populations as a broadening of his interest in trains, and that he was excited to go on vacations so he could record the population of each town they visited. “He can still recite the population of just about any town,” she said.

“The experience was amazing,” he recounted, after the art show. “My upcoming plans are to have a show at Seven Sisters Gallery for Autism Awareness Month. It’s great that I’m getting recognized, and that people are appreciating my art. I hope that my next art show will be as successful as this one was.”

“I’m also keeping my eye out for open positions in broadcasting. I like to DJ, too. What I’m really into is acting, like the movies I do with Adventure Club. Our films are diverse. We’ve made fantasy movies, a cross of crime drama, B-movie and horror… and our most recent was a comedy romance. We all participate in the creative process together.”

Jason appeared in the film Tommy Benjamin, produced by the Adventure Club (a TCRC service provider), and screened in the Palm Theatre in San Luis Obispo on January 25, 2014. Jason holds a degree in Broadcast Communications from Cuesta College where he also took art classes from instructor Marian Loomis, an early supporter who encouraged him to show his work.

“He never ceases to amaze me,” beamed Jason’s mother. “He’s uber-smart, and so authentic. He would never be disingenuous. He’s such a good person, and I’m so proud of him. Authentic and autism seem to go together. One time I told him, ‘Jason, if someone had a cure, I wouldn’t want you to have it.’ He said, ‘I feel the same’. Jason’s had so many angels. It’s been wonderful, once we really knew and admitted it (his diagnosis). It’s been quite miraculous.”

Collect a piece to further appreciate Jason Cantu’s unique view on interconnection. Some of Jason’s drawings are also available at theSeven Sisters Gallery (sevensistersgalleryca.com). Click on the “paintings” tab.