Louisville Artist's 'Hands-Off' Approach Beats the Odds - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Artist's 'Hands-Off' Approach Beats the Odds

Some paintings are abstract -- some are impressionistic landscapes.  What's new is Todd Esser's opening of a one-man show at a Louisville-area gallery this month.

Esser's paintings are filled with emotion.  Each one is an expression of his careful handiwork.  And yet -- handiwork really isn't the right word.

37-year-old Todd Esser cannot use his hands.  Cerebral palsy has left him with limited motor control, and the inability to walk or speak clearly.  But his job title reads: professional artist.  His employment coach is his biggest fan.

Kaye Dalton, Todd's job coach, says "He's just tremendous.  And not focusing on his disability.  'Poor pitiful Pearl' type thing -- it's not that way at all.  You don't talk to Todd and hear 'I can't do it.'   Todd can do anything he wants to do."

Esser says he uses colors to represent attitudes or feelings.  Black in a painting symbolizes the past -- when people with disabilities were often locked away from society.

"They didn't have a chance -- that made me so sad," he says.  "They put people away because they used a wheelchair -- because they got problems."

Esser says he quit painting with oils and acrylics -- because they taste bad.  Could it be said that Todd Esser has found a way to break out of the prison of his body?

Dalton: says, "He sings, his heart sings.  And you can see that in his paintings.  You can tell what mood Todd's in by the colors.  If he's in a bad mood, it's a darker color.  When he's happy, it's a bright color.  Today it's a bright color.  You cannot have a bad day and be around Todd.  There's no such thing as a bad day."

On Todd Esser's Internet website he writes this about non-disabled people: "The world is full of ignorance.  When you think you have learned it all, someone with disabilities comes along and speaks out loud: WE ARE HUMAN!"  And he says people don't buy his paintings because they pity his disability.

Esser says, "People like my work."

"He makes it better for all of us," Dalon says.  "It's a privilege to know Todd."

Esser's artwork is for sale through the Hawk's View Gallery and the studio where he does most of his painting, Creative Diversity of Louisville.

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