“I don’t know. What do you think I am?” he says, before adding that he had been drawn to a can of paint he had in an otherworldly green color, some of which he used on it. If a color and a beverage break provided the inspiration, the execution of that and all of the work that now receives such acclaim is the result of sheer persistence in the face of frustrating physical limitations.

His artistic interests have not changed much since his stroke in 1988, but his ability to translate the things he thinks about is more advanced now.

“If I saw a picture of someone that I thought I’d really like to draw, (back then) I didn’t have the hand/eye coordination that it takes to draw it, but now I do,” he said. “I realized the ability to draw like that, I just have to be patient and also have the faith, too, that if I just keep working on this it’s going to be really cool.”

His work looks effortlessly free flowing, vivid and engaging, like he just spontaneously put what was in his mind down on paper — et voila. But that sense of ease results from years of hard work. “Things like the bottle, it comes out really cool because I spent thousands of hours doing stuff like that so now I’m able to do something like that that doesn’t take me thousands of hours,” he said.

Just walking into the Heritage Gallery, which serves as an entryway into the Alternatives offices, you are instantly uplifted by the radiant colors and bold images of Sarkin’s work. “Everyone comes in and sees these bright colors and these fun shapes and designs, and it’s definitely different from what we’ve had recently in the gallery,” Ohman said.

That’s the kind of reaction Sarkin hopes people take away from looking at his art. “What success means to me is, when I do a piece and you look at it, and you’re like, ‘This is what it feels like to be alive. This is my experience of being alive.’ I thought the pieces in that show met that criterion,” Sarkin said.

Collari said that, for Alternatives’ clients and the general public as well, the show demonstrates that we all have something valuable to contribute to society whether we have a disability or not. “Sarkin’s story is so important because not only did he suffer a life altering brain injury, but he figured out a way to work through that,” she said. “He was reinvented by his experience and he figured out a way to move on and contribute something of value to society.”

Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and evenings and weekends by appointment. For more information, call (508) 234-6232 or email Cristi.Collari@AlternativesNet.org.