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Artist's autism helps drive his creative message

His work sells for thousands of dollars and helped him cross paths with a music legend.

It won’t take Dane Capo long after meeting you to show you his prized photo of him with one of music’s all-time icons.

“He gets a lot of mileage out of that photo,” said his mother, Krista Capo.

Two years ago, standing tall with his white "RINGO" T-shirt, Dane posed with Beatles legend Ringo Starr. The music icon is holding one of Dane’s paintings in his hands.

“Someone I know knows him and sent him a copy of my painting of the Beatles group,” said Dane, 23.

Dane has been painting for seven years and has quickly become very good at the craft. He’s hosted galleries and sold paintings for up to $6,000.

“My mom’s mother inspired me,” said Dane, who began painting with his grandmother’s old set of paints. “I like all the paintings I’ve done.”

The rise in popularity is a bit surprising for his mother, Krista. Painting started as a homeschool activity. She never expected it would blossom into this.

“He’s diagnosed with autism and epilepsy,” she explained. “He was diagnosed with epilepsy at 9 days old. He was diagnosed with autism at 5.”

Krista says that 85 percent of people with special needs can’t get jobs. The barrier to employment is a major hurdle for young adults like her son. It breaks her heart. Yet, she is glad Dane has found painting to help give him a sense of accomplishment as he strives to find work.

“It’s the only thing in his life that’s given him purpose and a sense of pride and accomplishment. I did that. Kids with disabilities don’t get that very often,” she said.

“There is this huge gray area when it comes to kids like Dane. So, art gave him a reason to interact with people.”

Dane has developed a line of merchandise with his art prints. He sells everything from greeting cards to socks to original art on canvas that sell for up to $10,000.

The hope is that Dane can one day be self-sufficient and serve as an example that people with special needs are capable of many things.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” Dane said of painting. “I think red has always been my favorite color.”

To see Dane’s work, visit DaneCapo.com.

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