Damon McLeese talks about his life’s work helping artists with disabilities find their artistic genius and running a gallery that features their work.
Some people might be different, but in Damon McLeese’s mind, that doesn’t mean they are disabled. With a little bit of spit and gusto, he’s been mentoring differently abled folks in creative pursuits as the director of Access Gallery and its parent organization, VSA Colorado, for more than twenty years. As far as he’s concerned, anyone has the tools to make art: Grannies with dementia can write graffiti, the blind can take photographs, and kids with developmental challenges can make a buck painting pet portraits or creating public-art installations for corporate clients. It takes someone with an artist’s soul, an activist’s drive and the voice of a true believer to get this kind of work done every day, and the big-hearted McCleese is living proof.