This past November, Art One Gallery in Old Town Scottsdale celebrated its 25th anniversary. For the entirety of its existence, the gallery has shown and sold the work of students and local artists to support its community.
Its recent collaboration with New York-based painter Sal Cosenza and the Autism Academy is a perfect illustration of the payoff of its commitment to Arizona’s burgeoning artists.
Cosenza first came into contact with Art One 13 years ago, when he was a local high school student. Since these humble beginnings, he has gone on to sell dozens of paintings across the country and become an architectural designer of large-scale buildings in New York City.
As he focuses on architecture and becomes more aware of the problems our world faces, Cosenza has begun to see his art as a way to bring positivity into the world.
“The news is just bad and getting worse,” Cosenza said. “Whatever your creative outlet is, whatever we hold dear as a way to express ourselves, I think now is the time to get it out there and do some good with it in some way, on any scale.”
The gallery has consistently supported his art, so when he felt the urge to do something more philanthropic with his painting, he knew Art One was the place to go. About two years ago, Cosenza reached out to Art One and soon a plan was devised for Cosenza to create a painting that would be donated to the Autism Academy, along with all the proceeds it generates.
The Autism Academy provides individually tailored K-12 grade academic programs and allows students to attend the school until they are 21.
According to Amy Floyd, the art teacher at the school’s Tempe campus, art is so critical for students with autism because for many it can be their best way of communicating. “A lot of our kids have a hard time communicating with words,” Floyd said. “I have a lot of students who are nonverbal or have trouble looking you in the face.”
“When you give them their instructions for their artwork and put it in front of them, it’s amazing to see their hyper-focus and how they get lost in their artwork and communicate what they want to say to us,” Floyd said. “We’ve learned a lot about who they are just by looking at their art. Some of them have some really amazing hidden talents that you would never suspect from them until you put the stuff in front of them.”
The school is home to some artistically talented students. In 2014, Autism Academy partnered with Art One and the students’ artwork has proven to be popular with customers. All of the proceeds from students’ work go right back to the school to support the art program.
“Out of the Darkness, Into the Light”
The gallery is selling prints of Cosenza’s painting for $30 each and the funds raised from them are going towards the purchase of four new 3D printers for the Academy.
The painting depicts three adventuring children sailing a ship with the Autism Academy’s logo and encountering an island and foreign ship that will determine their uncertain fate.
The original painting was displayed at the gallery in January and has recently moved to its permanent home at the Autism Academy where Cosenza hopes it inspires students like they inspire him.
“I think what Amy is doing with them is opening up their minds. I thought, what are these young kids doing when they create art? They’re setting sail,” Cosenza said. “This is a painting about life in general. It’s the idea of mystery, danger, the daunting task of setting sail and doing something.”
For more: artonegalleryinc.com.