Jon Leverentz’s art featured in Changing Landscapes of Art exhibition

Jon Leverentz was 18 years old when he was in an accident that resulted in brain stem damage and caused permanent double vision, tremors and paralysis. Instead of letting his new disabilities deter him from pursuing his passion of creating art, Leverentz forged ahead and began studying painting independently with Augsburg College Professor Norman Holen.

Through the years, Leverentz participated in exhibitions across the country, actively pursuing grants and progressing as an artist.

Today, nearly 50 years later, Leverentz still hasn’t let his disabilities get in the way of his pursuits as an artist. The Minnetonka resident, who is supported by Wayzata-based Hammer Residences, works as an artist at Interact Center in St. Paul and continues to produce art – mainly acrylic and oil paintings that feature a strong focus on perception.

The artist was recently selected to be a featured artist in the 10th year of Changing Landscapes art exhibition, which supports local artists with disabilities. The art show is an initiative of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration.

Close to 30 pieces by Leverentz are currently on display in Pattee Hall on the university’s Minneapolis campus.

“Jon actually called friends who had purchased his artwork to have them loan them back to him so that they could be displayed. … He’s helping curate his own exhibit, which is really kind of cool,” said Mark Olsen, project coordinator for the art exhibit.

Olsen said the art exhibition is supported by the Stephanie Evelo Arts & Disability Memorial Fund, which is named for the late Stephanie Evelo, an artist who lived with a disability and was an employee of the Institute on Community Integration.

The fund supports the Stephanie Award, which is given to Changing Landscapes artists and helps purchase artwork for the Evelo Art Collection, a permanent collection of work by artists with disabilities on display in Pattee Hall.

The fund was established by Evelo’s parents, Sheryl and David, who were among a group of volunteers who helped display Leverentz’s art work in preparation of the exhibition’s May 31 opening. The art will be displayed through Sept. 6, with a reception expected early that month.

To watch a YouTube vido of Leverentz sharing his story, visit goo.gl/FjAIH7.

Founded in 1923, Hammer Residences provides residential and customized support services to more than 1,700 people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and runs 37 homes and 10 apartment programs throughout the western metro.

Contact Jason Jenkins at jason.jenkins@ecm-inc.com.

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