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Classical 101

Have You Met Henry Hess?


This past weekend I went to my first ComFest.

I was interested to read in last week's Columbus Alive that ComFest awards financial grants to arts projects in the community. The weekend festival in Goodale Park is but one facet of ComFest's works.

Among the recent recipients are the Vanderelli Room in Franklinton. Melissa Starker writes, "Director Alicia Jean Vanderelli and artist-in-residence Walter Herman have used the gift to create an intensive two week workshop for young artists with autism, which kicked off in the art space this week."

Henry Hess, 16,  is a young man on the autism spectrum who may not speak much, but he makes phenomenal art. I first met Henry last year when some of his work was shown at the McCoy Arts Center in New Albany, during a New Albany Symphony performance.

Henry's work was chosen to represent NASO in art.  He came on stage to be introduced to the VERY enthusiastic audience by yours truly. Just to see Henry is to love him, bow tie and trademark pork pie hat and colorful drawings filled with the light he has in his eyes.

I've served on a few panels with Henry's mom, Amy Hess, who is program director for the Center for Autism Services and Transition at OSU Medical Center in Hilliard. Henry's parents got him studio space at 400 Rich Street. That's where Jean and Walter met and began to mentor Henry. Henry's talent is now inspiring others on the autism spectrum to pursue their own creativity, under the aegis of Alicia Jean Vanderelli and Walter Hermann. 

Henry's work has already been shown in New York. His talent has secured his future. Vanderelli and Hermann had the know how to recognize and nurture such talent. ComFest and the New Albany Symphony made further exposure of Henry's gifts possible. The arts in Columbus continue to collaborate, teach, nurture and reach new audiences.