Inspired by Artism

31 May

Today I’m going to tell you about one of the most inspirational people I know. His name is Joey Frye, and his story, although I know very few day-to-day details, is one of victory and hope that could teach us all how to live better lives.

Because we live more than an hour apart, Joey and I have only met face-to-face about ten times, and most of those when he was quite young. Much of what I know about him I’ve learned through his amazing mom and through his art. His mom and I worked together for 12 years, from the time she learned about his Asperger’s Syndrome (a high-functioning region of the Autism spectrum) through his high school graduation.

Joey is an artist of rare quality, and an entrepreneur. His paintings are pure, unusual, and delightful. He specializes in creating visual word puns (house fly, a scholar ship, etc.) and in pulling all the positive elements of a person’s life into one beautiful tribute.

Now, Joey has three things going for him right off the bat that make Asperger’s merely a part of his personality and not a hampering distinction.

First, he has fantastic parents, who have always nurtured, encouraged, and championed his abilities. They didn’t shelter him from the harsh realities of life, despite the heartache that occasionally came with it. He attended public school and learned early on that not everyone is nice. They did, however, teach Joey to believe in himself and to search for joy in times of frustration. Some might argue they did such a good job that humility is not part of his vocabulary. (“Why Joey, you’re an amazing artist!” … “Yeah, I know.”)  But his confidence is irresistible, and it has made him quite popular. He was voted homecoming king in his senior year of high school, and last year he was a guest of honor at the Virginia House of Delegates, introduced on the floor by Republican Delegate Margaret B. Ransone. Add to that, last week Joey, now 22, graduated from Germanna College magna cum laude with a Certificate of Fine Arts.

ArtismChristmasSecond, Joey has great faith in God. His faith is pure and childlike, which, as we’ve all been instructed, is the best type of faith. He is not afraid to pose questions to his online friends, challenging them to truly assess what they believe and what they believe is possible. Thanks to Joey, I fully expect to see dinosaurs in Heaven. In one of my favorites of his works, Joey painted a manger scene in which the Christ child (a snowman, of course) is flanked by two cheerful puppies who look suspiciously like Cricket (but why not?). Moreover, I believe Joey can see how God has turned his Asperger’s into a gift and take joy in the way it enables him to view the world differently.

Third, Joey has great joy for life. This emanates from all he does, from celebrating Steve Irwin’s birthday to going to the beach for a weekend. He’s all in, and it transfers to his art. Joey does with paint what I have always tried to do with words—create whimsical pictures of life to help people find the joy that is always available to us.

artismIt is my great hope to make enough in my own business to commission a Joey Frye painting. I’ve actually made that a personal goal, for 2020. In the meantime, I will continue to purchase his greeting cards and promote his art whenever I can. (Check out Joey’s business at

Which brings me to my point: Joey’s FIRST ART EXHIBIT! If you are looking for something to do tomorrow, June 1st, and in light of the gorgeous weather in the forecast, I recommend taking a day trip to Bowling Green, to the Sidney E. King Arts Center (121 N Main St) to see some of his work from 1-4 p.m. You will NOT be disappointed, and you might find yourself with a new, jubilant, inspirational friend.


Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. –Romans 15:13

11 Responses to “Inspired by Artism”

  1. Caroline Frye May 31, 2019 at 4:23 pm #

    My dear friend, yes, you did it again. That is, made me cry. Thank you so much. You do EXACTLY with words what Joey does with paint. It is an absolute honor to have both of you as gifts in my life.

    • Portrait Writer May 31, 2019 at 5:06 pm #

      Aww, the honor is mine. Can’t wait to see his work. You know we’ll be there. ❤

  2. Loretta Frank May 31, 2019 at 9:57 pm #

    Rose, what a masterpiece that you’ve written. So dear to my heart as I was a para-professional with an autisic boy for several years. I went to your portrait page, and reread with tears in my eyes. I’m so proud to call you my niece!

    • Portrait Writer June 1, 2019 at 8:47 am #

      Oh my, thank you Loretta! But Joey is the superstar. I just watch. I will send you some of his cards. 🙂

  3. Allyn Bamberger June 1, 2019 at 9:27 pm #

    Rose, that is a truly lovely salute to a truly lovely young man. I loved the Nativity scene!

    • Portrait Writer June 1, 2019 at 10:26 pm #

      Thank you Allyn. He’s such a sweetheart, I’m just thrilled to know him.

  4. writingtruelove June 4, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing Joey’s story. His art sounds as wonderful as the young man does.

  5. Michelle Adserias June 14, 2019 at 10:02 am #

    Joey sounds like an amazing young man! I’m so glad you shared his story. It’s a testament to the truth that God declared everything, and everyone, He made “good,” whether they fit the people-imposed mold or not.

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