Neighborhood sketches

June 19, 1998|By KATE COLEMAN

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Eric Mohn

Eric Mohn, a 52-year-old Gaithersburg, Md., artist, has painted five scenes of Hagerstown.

The original watercolor paintings and prints of these "Neighborhood Sketches," will be sold to raise funds for Rehabilitation Services of Washington County Health System Inc.

--cont from lifestyle--

Mohn paints by holding a brush in his mouth. The award-winning artist has been quadriplegic since the summer between his junior and senior years at St. James School. He was 17 and driving with friends in Ocean City, Md.

At 6-foot-2, Mohn says he was told he's too tall for the little Volkswagen bug without headrests.

Near Fenwick Island, a woman in the Ocean Highway traffic apparently changed her mind about turning into a shopping center. Mohn says he turned his head to say something to one of his friends. Mohn's car collided with the woman's car. He's been paralyzed ever since - more than 34 years.


He spent three months at Georgetown University Hospital. For 15 months, Mohn was at New York University Medical Center's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City. He also was at Western Maryland Hospital for a while in 1965 and 1966.

How did a young man cope with such a huge change in his life? Mohn says he experienced about two years of depression.

He says he has great parents who more or less decided that he was going to college. He earned an associate degree in business from Montgomery College in Rockville, Md., and a bachelor's degree in business from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C.

"I just decided to get on with my life."

And that he has. He and his wife, Rita, married Nov. 25, 1991.

Mohn learned to sign his name using his mouth to guide the pen and discovered his signature was nearly the same as it had been when he wrote it by hand. He says he always could draw and sketch, so he wondered if he could do it with his mouth. His dad built a table that held the work closer to his face.

Oak Hill HouseMohn has been painting for 21 years. He's never had an art lesson. He learned from books and from art galleries, museums and other artists.

Mohn has participated in art shows for artists with disabilities for several years. He does commissions for individuals.

At the recent unveiling of his work at a reception at Robinwood Medical Center, Mohn met a woman who observed that everyone is handicapped to a certain extent.

"We go through life, and we do the best we can do," Mohn says.

His best is beautiful. That would be enough, but these paintings also will help others.

Mohn is matter-of-fact about a talent many would consider quite amazing. The project is "just another job."

"I want people to appreciate my paintings. That's all," he says.


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