A new store opened in Clewiston last weekend. Tucked comfortably in the corner near Git ‘n Split and Western Union, Art By Josh And More offers residents access to high-end art supplies, including oil paints, acrylics, paint brushes, colored pencils and canvases, fabrics, prints of paintings and silk flowers accompanied by delicate vases and baskets.
Art By Josh And More owners Cathy Martinez and Josh Martinez Sr. have been working diligently for the past couple months to get the store together before the grand opening on May 17. Using a trio of blue balloons to mark the grand opening that Saturday, Mrs. Martinez joked that people would think they were announcing the birth of a baby boy. But the blue, she said, represented autism — the main reason they were there, standing in the store.
Mr. and Mrs. Martinez’s son, Josh Jr., has autism. And while using art as a therapy, Josh discovered an incredible talent that catapulted him to his current position: selling his own paintings in his own store.
Josh has an uncanny knack for pairing colors, shapes and objects to create a beautiful collage worthy of a frame and a focal point. Over the years, Josh has created hundreds of pieces of art and has sold them at different festivals and events, as well as online at his website, www.abstractjoshi.wordpress.com.
Now, Josh can add brick and mortar to his many mediums.
The store offers numerous Art by Josh paintings, which hang strategically on the newly painted wall behind the cash register — many of his pieces are also available as prints.
“I think he’s really proud of himself. He was very excited. He doesn’t know what to do with himself,” said Mrs. Martinez, as Josh walked with his hands in his pockets around the store.
Josh revealed another creative talent of his at the grand opening: silk flowers arranged appealingly in varying vases throughout the store.
“He loves putting together flower arrangements,” said Mrs. Martinez. “Just the way he puts them together, they look so appealing.”
Mrs. Martinez said they would be working on more flower arrangements for the future.
Mr. and Mrs. Martinez also made sure to include books and brochures for parents to learn more about autism.
“We’re going to have a pretty good library,” she said.
Walking around the store and looking at the shelves stocked with colorful paints and decorations, then catching a glimpse of the artwork hanging on the red wall, it isn’t hard to notice the hard work and effort that went into making the new store a reality; it also isn’t hard to see the supportive parents standing behind the cash register who recognized their child’s talent and ran with it.