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Special Announcements: An Exclusive Shoutout Interview with VoyageMIA, and Other News

Here is the link to the original article:

My interview with the Els Center for Autism’s “Fore! Podcast” debuted today too. It’s Episode 26 and my interview starts about 37 minutes into the program. Here is the link. Enjoy!:

Finally, I also released the paperback version of my new book yesterday, “The Blue Book of Poetry and Life”, on Amazon. Get your copy today!:

Meet Andrew Blitman | Artist, Author, and Teacher

We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Blitman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrew, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?

Honestly, when I recount all of the paintings and writing projects I have done over the years , the three most important factors that come to mind are these:

1. That the finished paintings and books will make the recipients/clients/patrons/customers happy
2. That I have fun creating my works (it’s therapeutic), and that completed projects evoke immense satisfaction. Basically: I don’t do it all for only money
3. That sheer abundance and diversity of the works I have created helps me appeal to a wider audience of readers and customers than someone who uses only one medium at a time.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

In some ways, my road was smooth but in other ways, it was rough. I have autism and that has been a major and sometimes difficult influence in my life.

However, I am very blessed to have a large close-knit and loving family who has always been there to protect me. It has taken me many years to appreciate them and how wonderful our times spent together are, and how they shaped me into who I am today. Many of my creations started out as projects for my own enjoyment, or as gifts for friends or family members. I followed my creative concepts as small ideas, for fun. My current path as an author and a painter emerged organically. Some parts were planned, like “Birthright 2012: A Voyage into the Heart and Soul of Israel”: my most popular book and my personal favorite among them so far..

For most of my early life I hated having autism and myself for having it, and that led me to be jealous of my neurotypical classmates and my brother, who did not have the same struggles that I had. This gradually deepened into depression and suicidal feelings, all of which ironically motivated me to catch up to my peers academically and socially. This led to blogging and writing poetry, and then to publishing my first book and many others afterward, and from there to creating paintings, which has become my favorite thing to do, which makes me really happy.

My experiences growing up with autism also inspired me to give back and help others like me, and led me to become an active participant in the South Florida autism community – I served on the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) Constituency Board from 2011 to 2017, and I have served on the Advisory Board for Els for Autism since 2018 and I still do today.

As a painter, I find myself specializing in birds, fish, landscapes, seascapes, and monuments. I pride myself with my acrylic paintings. My personal favorites among my original paintings are the “Mandarin Duck” and “Makaira (Blue Marlin)”. I am really proud of how much improvement I have seen in my paintings over such a short period of time. Painting started off as a curiosity and then became a hobby. I invested a lot of time and effort and money into perfecting it during the first year of COVID-19 Quarantine, and then even more of it over the past two or so years. Over the past two to three years, the caliber of my paintings grew and people started to buy them. In 2021, I was commissioned to make paintings for FAU CARD, and those opportunities fed my desire to create more and more paintings.

My productivity is amazing; last year I was able to compile more than 300 paintings into a portfolio book that you can buy on Amazon today: “The Painting Portfolio: A Comprehensive and Current Collection of Visual Art”. The painting process is therapeutic for me. It helps me clear my mind and it feels like meditation when I do it. I am certain that these things contribute to why I am so prolific — I love it all!

As an author, I prefer writing poetry – especially free verse and sonnets. Among my favorite original poems are “Never Again (Conversations with God)”, “Alone in the Universe”, “The Emperor and the Swan”, “The Song of Love”, “Magnum Opus: Ophelia’s Whirlwind Rhapsody”, “The Autistic Voice”, and “Mother Elephant”.

I am different from other acrylic painters in terms of my creative process – I am certain that it is the combination of rapid production speed and art production quality that makes my work stand out from the works of other artists. I suppose another thing that makes me most unique is my age and the fact that I have done so much in such a short period of time.

Most critically — my life has taught me that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it; that quitting is never the answer to a problem; that the most effective help comes to those who speak up about getting help; to give credit to others when it’s due; and that persistence is a virtue and the most effective way to achieve success!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

If you were my friend and you wanted to have fun exploring Miami with me, here are some of my favorite Miami attractions, where I will kindly drag you during your visit:

1. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens
2. Oleta River State Park – especially for kayaking
3. Sunset Place in South Miami
4. Books & Books in South Miami
5. The Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami
6. The Miami Seaquarium
7. The Perez Art Museum
8. Miracle Mile/Venetian Pool
9. South Beach/Lincoln Road
10. The Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

Once those attractions wear you out, I will kindly drag you to these restaurants for a meal break. They are some of my favorite places in the city:

1. The Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne
2. The Rathskeller at the University of Miami
3. The Versailles Cuban Restaurant in South Miami
4. Bagel Emporium
5. The Titanic Brewery
6. Tea & Poets at Sunset Place
7. The Yard House at Merrick Park
8. Town Kitchen & Bar
9. Monty’s Coconut Grove
10. Miami’s Best Pizza

There are so many other places to visit in Miami. It’s a vibrant and fun city, with something for everyone to enjoy. New things are always emerging or being built. Explore it for a life-changing experience!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I owe a lot to many people and organizations. I am truly grateful for FAU CARD (CARD = Center for Autism and Related Disabilities), the Els Center for Autism, UM-NSU CARD, UM Hillel, Artists with Autism (AWA), and the Dan Marino Foundation. There are so many people that deserve recognition. Here they are:

1. My parents — In addition to giving birth to me and raising me, they have stood by me and supported all of my endeavors. They are role models who continually inspire me to be a good person. My Dad is an accomplished mediator who strongly believes in community service. My Mom does too, and she has worked with abandoned dogs at animal shelters. They have positively influenced me, protected me, and shown me such immeasurable love that I believe they are the embodiment of it. I love them and owe them everything, for they have been tremendously helpful with proofreading and editing my works and guiding me through college and graduate school. Their love is the reason why I am still here with you today. They also took me on many vacations that opened my eyes to new ideas and experiences that influenced my creativity throughout my life — like Chicago and the Monterey Aquarium.

2. My grandparents — They are some of the greatest people I have ever known, and I deeply cherish and admire them, and emulate them. They too have contributed immensely to my life, and I enjoy spending time with them. They have taken me on many vacations as well, and they motivate me just as much as my parents do. They have also been present for every milestone in my life. They also pushed me to excel in school and introduced me to many unique and influential places and experiences. They have also taught me a lot about how to be a Mensch and a good person in general.

3. My great aunt and great uncle — They are fantastic people who fill me with tremendous joy and inspiration. They influenced my love of nature and helped me proofread the book I wrote about my Birthright trip to Israel in 2012. My aunt also helped me with my public speaking skills, and she and my uncle lay the foundation for my family’s traditions — including holidays like Passover and Thanksgiving and Friday night dinners that brought all of us together.

4. My brother — He has always been a major part of my life. He has always been there in times of trouble, and he and his wife are still positive influences that fill me with joy every day

5. My cousins and extended family — I have a long list of cousins and aunts and uncles. I love them all dearly. The most influential are my cousins Amy, Marty, and Alan Kratish. One of my uncles is a dentist. Another uncle is one of the best psychiatrists in Florida. Another uncle is a highly regarded advertisement creator. Another is an engineer. One of my cousins is a DJ and an event planner. Another is a highly qualified interior designer. Another cousin works for a theater company, and one works for Disney, and another cousin graduated from college this year. I have one cousin who goes to Northeastern University. And one more graduated from high school this year.

6. I would also like to give a shout out to a few friends: Donna King, Kemy Joseph, Derek, Merrick Egber, Dr. Michael Alessandri, Dr. Marlene Sotelo, Dr. Erin Lozott, Susan Morantes, Dr. Diane Adreon, Dr. Jennifer Percival, Dr. Jack Scott, Dr. Maryellen Quinn-Lunny, Nancy Zaretsky, and Cynthia Drucker

7. I also want to give a shout-out to Firewall Centers, my current employer, for the hard work it does helping students in Broward Schools. The founders of the organization — Andy and Janeth Fernandez — and my colleagues are amazing leaders who continually inspire me to be the best teacher/mentor/person I can be.


For more of my original content, visit these sites!




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