- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - After 25 years of health complications, Clint Galster was left with two talents, he says, but he denies that they are anything special.

Galster, who lives in downtown La Crosse, is good at making people laugh and drawing with charcoal pencils. The artist is selling prints of his artwork at Deaf Ear Records on Fourth Street.

“Anybody can draw if they tried, I think,” Galster said.

Stacy Masters, regional coordinator of Aurora Vocational Services, shook her head.

“I can’t do that,” she said.

Masters first met Galster three years ago and has worked with him closely since November 2014.

“Clint is an outgoing, funny and talented individual,” Masters said.

Galster admits to being a bit of a joker.

“I don’t let anything get me down. I always try to turn bad to good,” Galster said.

Galster was born epileptic, but his major medical issues really began to flare up when he was 15. The seizures became so bad he needed brain surgery to try and get them under control.

After going under the knife, “I had some side effects,” Galster said, downplaying the stroke he suffered as a result.

The stroke left him with limited use of his left side- especially annoying when taking into account that Galster is left-handed. He could barely use his left arm and was forced to learn to draw and write with his right hand. A second surgery 10 years ago ended with a second stroke and second round of paralysis on the same side.

“Every injury I’ve ever had was on my left side. I could probably try to break my right arm and end up breaking the left,” Galster joked.

Galster got through it with the help of his younger sister, Heather, who took two weeks off of work to stay with him in the hospital.

“They said I would never walk again twice, and here I am,” Galster said, gesturing to his cane he’s used for more than 25 years.

Galster still has ocular migraines, but overall says he’s has been doing well; he hasn’t had a seizure since January.

“I don’t know what to do with myself. I was used to having hundreds a day,” Galster said.

Mostly what Galster does is draw.

“It keeps me out of trouble,” Galster said. “Since I have a lot of time on my hands, a lot gets done.”

He’s got cabinets filled with sketchbooks and other drawings at home, but he’s too much of a perfectionist to share many of his pieces.

When asked how his artwork came to be at Deaf Ear Records, Galster pointed to Masters. “Her,” he said.

Between the constant risk of seizures and his limited mobility, Galster has trouble finding steady work, which is where Masters’ company, Aurora Vocational Services, comes into the picture. Aurora works to set up disabled people who want to work with employment.

“Clint was looking to be a part of something; he wanted to have a purpose, and he has been successful in doing that,” Masters said.

Galster had previously held a job in Waukesha, but after his second stroke, he wasn’t able to find another regular job.

“We worked as a team to brainstorm other ideas, where Clint could feel involved and have additional income,” Masters said.

During one of their brainstorming sessions, Masters hit on an idea.

“When I would meet with Clint at his apartment, I would continue to notice this one painting on his wall,” Masters said.

Galster was originally reluctant to put it up for sale.

“I’m very protective of that one,” Galster said.

The piece, which is actually a charcoal drawing, was one of Galster’s favorites. He had drawn it as a senior in high school, switching from his left to his right hand.

“It was kind of my own pet project,” Galster said. “I never thought I’d see it out in public.”

Eventually, Masters’ persistence won out and she approached Matt Smith, store manager of Deaf Ear Records in La Crosse, to see if it was something he’d be interested in.

“When I saw that picture, I was just amazed,” Smith said.

Galster drew a close up of a bass guitar, based loosely on the one he used to play before his first stroke.

“It’s a cooler perspective than if it was a full guitar,” Smith said.

Smith said the picture of the bass guitar was “a perfect fit for the store.”

“It fits into that art side of the store, but also the music side,” Smith said.

Galster was pretty surprised when Smith accepted the prints and started selling them.

“It’s a little weird. I mean, I like it, but I haven’t gotten over the shock,” Galster said.

It’s pretty strange to think of a store he frequented as a teen selling his artwork, he said.


Information from: La Crosse Tribune, https://www.lacrossetribune.com

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