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Participant Information

Dick Sebastian

City:
New York
State:
NY
Country:
USA
Essay:

I am submitting this application on behalf of my father as he is extremely shy about his artwork and would probably refuse this entire process on the grounds that his cartoons are simply not worthy.

I want to tell you about my father and how his artwork has given him a renewed sense of purpose. My father was always an active, athletic person. He had the unintended effect of shaming the rest of us into productivity because he was always doing something.

The only time he could be found sitting, is when he was reading and his most covered project is an old, dilapidated house in need of floor-to-ceiling restoration.

He and my mother retired from a farm in Ohio to New York City in 1996. For years, they covered as much city pavement as possible, traveling from museums to movies to restaurants, taking in all that the city has to offer.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1999 and increasingly over the last six years, his mobility confined him to the West Village apartment that he shares with my mom and their three dogs.

He completed as many handyman projects as his body and the limited space would allow... but eventually the projects ran dry. Not a good situation for someone who hates to sit.

A few years ago, he turned his energies to cartooning. We always knew he was good at Pictionary, but we had no idea that underneath his handyman-athlete exterior, there was an artist waiting for an opportunity to come out. He drew cartoons mostly for friends, neighbors, and family; and those of us lucky enough to be on his "distribution" list look forward to his weekly - in my case, daily - cartoon deliveries.

Cartooning has given my dad a renewed sense of purpose. It keeps him connected to friends, family and the neighborhood because his process is as much about creating as it is about delivering the finished product to others.

His Midwestern upbringing prevents him from saying so, but I know that he delights in the joy his cartoons bring to others. Parkinson's has definitely been an unwelcome guest, but it has birthed an artist and everyone who has been touched by the charm of his cartoons marvels at the amount of perception and detail that are somehow created by his shaky hand.