Artist to Raise Funds for Autism Through Exhibition in Empty Penthouses

By Mathew Katz on September 4, 2013 6:51am 

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  Mitch Siegel, who has an autistic son, hopes to donate thousands in proceeds to the Autism Society.
Artist's Work Will Benefit Autism Society
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HELL'S KITCHEN — An artist and father whose work is hanging in some of the swankiest apartments on the west side plans to sell his paintings to benefit an autism charity.

Midtown-based artist Mitch Siegel's artwork is currently on display in empty penthouses at Strata, the luxury rentals at the top of the staircase-shaped Mercedes House.

Roughly 30 percent of the proceeds from sales of Siegel's dreamlike works, which range in price from $700 to $2,500, will go to the Autism Society for education, awareness, advocacy and research, as well as to assist families living with autism.

For Siegel, this isn't just a charity fundraiser — it's personal.

"I have a son with autism, and he's doing very well because of all the support that's out there," he said.

Siegel's 25-year-old son, Ryan, is living in a supported group, where he's developed greater language skills than his doctors had originally hoped when he was diagnosed with autism as a child, Siegel said.

"There's a spectrum of potential and things go slowly, but a lot of this good work can be intertwined — that's why I'm trying to help," he said.

Siegel said that while he was initially overwhelmed by his son's diagnosis, there have been many rewarding moments. Many of his paintings, he said, were inspired by his son.

"When you first find out the diagnosis, it's a challenge to get over the shock, but then you get into an educational mode and an advocacy mode for your child," he said. "It's something that's throughout their life — it doesn't end when they're 2 or 3 or 25."

Siegel hopes to raise several thousand dollars for the Autism Society and is also offering prospective buyers free tours of the penthouses where he'll discuss his work — both with his paintings and his work in autism advocacy. 

"The need is great and the funds are low. Programs aren't as funded as they were before," he said. "I could funnel money to a million different charities, but this one is the most meaningful for me."

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