“London Calling” is the solo show of the young upcoming British “street artist” Rich Simmons at Soho Contemporary Art gallery on the Bowery. Simmons’ popularity has grown rapidly over the past 5-6 years due to his humorous use of pop icons/brands, 50’s pin-ups, and superheroes. Skeptical of another millennial hip to now viral radical art movements, pioneering street artists, and graffiti writers, I felt there was more to this artist than just that. Looking deeper beneath the surface, I read about and found a human being desperately searching for an outlet and safe haven. Simmons was mildly autistic and suffered from depression and social anxiety throughout his teenage years. Art served as a positive outlet for him to deal with these issues. But it didn’t stop there. Simmons realized he wasn’t alone. After sharing his story and art work via MySpace followers started to reach out to him thanking him for inspiring them not to give up or give in to all the negativity in their lives.In 2008, Simmons founded Art Is The Cure as a creative hub on MySpace for him and others to connect based on his story. In 2012, Simmons and friend Frazer Miller, “created an online platform and community for supporters of AITC to share their own stories, their own artwork and to find inspiration from others. The platform would give people the opportunity to inspire people in the same way A new kind of outlook on creative therapy being done by people in their own way, with whatever creative release they had, in their own time and space.”. The organization became quite a success leading Simmon’s to work with youth in schools and other organizations, through workshops, lectures, and events. Simmons’ art also became a success as well. Since 2010 he has had three successful shows in the UK and his buyer list has become quite extensive. “London Calling” is his debut show in the U.S..Rich Simmons’ story hit a personal chord with us being parents of special needs children. We never want our children to suffer or feel they have no options or feel unhappy within their own skin.596 not only had a chance to see his work last night, but also ask him a few questions about how he’s gotten to this point in his life and career.
596: In your press release for “London Calling” and in a couple write-ups it is mentioned you are diagnosed with mild autism and depression. I have a son (11 years old) diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 2. Many therapies including art therapy have helped him throughout his journey. How old were you when you were diagnosed and at what point in your life was art therapy introduced? What people during that part of your life were your advocates? How did they support you?