Paul Vitale Gallery Opening
Michael Spagna, dean of the college of education, and Joan Vitale are joined by Vitale’s friends and family as well as faculty and staff at the opening of the exhibit. Photo by Lee Choo
The Michael D. Eisner College of Education opened “The Paul Vitale Gallery – Art Outside the Lines” on February 11, 2011. It is located in the Teaching, Learning and Counseling Consortium. The gallery contains the artwork of Paul Vitale, who was born with autism and other developmental issues. After Joan Vitale, Paul’s mother, heard former CSUN President Jolene Koester speak about the College of Education’s Special Needs Program, she decided to donate her son’s paintings to the program. Mrs. Vitale said the pieces in the gallery express Paul’s ability to defy the boundaries set before him throughout his 37 years.
Paul Vitale was born in 1953 to Joan and Joe Vitale and went on to become a Special Olympics medalist, music conductor, and abstract watercolor artist. Art was always an effective communication process for Paul. It was his mother who recognized his gift as an artist and communicator early in his education experience and encouraged her son’s talent. Depicted in the gallery are some of Paul’s most expressive works. With a flare for the dramatic use of color, Paul used watercolors to convey not only feelings, but also to capture his perceptions of movement and change. The gallery includes a compilation of his works depicting movement and energy. They cover a period of 14 years, beginning in 1975, although his watercolors go back to 1956, when he was two and a half.
The gallery is entitled ‘Art Outside the Lines’ from a conversation Joan and Joe had with Paul’s ART teacher at a Parent-Teachers night. Displayed on the walls were pictures painted by all of the students in the class. Joan and Joe searched for their son’s artwork and couldn’t find it. When they asked Paul’s teacher about their son’s artwork, they were told his paintings were in a stack in the corner “Because he won’t stay inside the lines.” Therefore, the Gallery’s subtitle came to be, celebrating Paul’s creative talent and life outside the lines.
In addition to the gallery, the Paul Vitale Endowment was created by his loving mother, Joan, to inspire others with special needs to use art to express themselves. The Teacher, Learning and Counseling Consortium now provides aspiring artists with supplies and materials to be creative and expressive through various art mediums through this endowment.
A photo of Paul Vitale participating in a Special Olympics field event in 1985. Photo by Joan Vitale
Opening reception attendees view Paul’s untitled watercolor, painted in 1975. Photo by Lee Choo
This untitled watercolor, painted in 1988, is one of the nine pieces that hang in the gallery. Photo by Lee Choo