Home Linked Philly artist with autism whose work sells for $25,000 has a Center...

Philly artist with autism whose work sells for $25,000 has a Center City show. A year ago, he was unknown.

 JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

For years, Lonnie Smith would gather the artwork made by his son, Kambel, and set up small shows at senior centers, libraries, and YMCAs across the Philadelphia region.

Lonnie knew his son had a gift, but he couldn’t get anybody else to see it.

“No one would come,” he said. “Zero.”

It crushed Kambel every time. And so, it crushed Lonnie, too.

To soften the blow, Lonnie would sit with his sons, Kambel, now 32, and Kantai, 24, both of whom have autism. Together, they would create stories about how people with autism — whom they called Autisarians — have superhuman abilities, not disabilities.

Lonnie would tell his sons that sometimes, it’s just hard for non-Autisarians to see that . . .

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