Jimmy Reagan, a resident of Mendota Heights, Minnesota, has confronted many hurdles throughout his life. As a toddler, he was diagnosed with autism, losing his language and social skills. At age 12, he began being homeschooled after being diagnosed with a chronic cell disease. Despite these challenges, Reagan has distinguished himself through his incredible artistic talent.
According to a Star Tribune report, Reagan currently works as a painter and mixed media artist, with his pieces, selling for up to $8,000, being displayed internationally alongside Picasso and Seurat. Reagan’s artistic talent is not surprising, given that creativity runs in his family. His brother is an award-winning videographer, his sister is an illustrator, and his great uncle, the late George Schneeman, was a renowned New York City painter.
Reagan’s mother, Peg Reagan, explained that her son’s artwork serves as a vehicle for him to communicate his thoughts and feelings to the outside world. For example, Jimmy once used a painting to communicate to his parents that he was physically sick. As explained by Star Tribune’s report, Reagan crafted a painting titled “Face-Sick,” with his name signed backwards and upside down.
“Reagan had been trying to tell his parents for months that he was unwell, but [Peg Reagan] said they weren’t listening — or didn’t understand. He couldn’t articulate that his sickness was flaring up again. Peg only recognized it because of his art.”
In addition to their artistic inclinations, the Reagan family has been highly involved in groundbreaking autism work in Minnesota, including helping to found the University of Minnesota’s autism clinic, with Jimmy as the first patient. The Reagan’s have also donated the proceeds from Jimmy’s art to the University’s children’s hospital and autism clinic.
One of Jimmy’s local fans is Bill Miller, owner of the St. Paul wine shop Sunfish Cellars, which was the first to showcase Reagan’s art in 2010.
“I just love how it makes you feel,” Miller said of Reagan’s work. “It’s full of life. You know how you feel on a spring, green day when finally the leaves pop on a tree and it’s just alive? That’s how I see his paintings.”