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Artist discovers talent stems from injury

By Danielle Paine

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD - Tom Krivacs became an artist after falling off of a 20-foot ladder, onto his head.

"I never had any interest in art at all," Krivacs said. "I was good at what I did (house painting) but there was nothing extraordinary about it until I started doing all this stuff."

The "stuff" Krivacs refers to is a feverish compulsion to paint on everything- walls, rocks, canvas, people and more. The drive to paint and create came just days after the fall and remains, 24 hours a day, 12 years after falling from a ladder on a job site in 1995. Not only did Krivacs gain the motivation to be artistic but he also received the talent. His work, now hung in several galleries, has been called exceptional.

"I've never taken lessons and I never practice anything. I just do it," Krivacs said.

From the time this new passion emerged through little craft kits he did while recovering from the fall, until Krivacs recently made a name for himself as an artist, he thought he was alone in this phenomenon. But a friend of a friend, after listening to Krivac's story, lent him an article titled "The Science of Art" from the November/December 2006 issue of Neurology Now magazine. Through the stories of people just like Krivacs, the research documented lives driven by creative compulsion immediately after suffering a brain injury or stroke. The conditions are called compulsive creativity syndromes and can be the results of brain damage called frontotemporal dementia.

"All of a sudden, I was like 'wow'," Krivacs said. "There are people out there like me."

Krivacs described his changed mentality as suddenly seeing everything in a different way. When he can find the time off from commissioned work to paint in his basement workshop, Krivacs turns the stereo up loud, grabs his favorite "paintbrush" ( a rag ) and just "lets it flow" almost subconsciously.

"I go from different mediums, I always need something different to paint on," Krivacs said. "You could say I've done around 100,000 pieces."

Not only does his self-taught ability astound customers, but his versatility in style and mediums also amazes.

Krivac's journey is documented in countless photo albums. The projects range from sculptures of sand and snow to airbrushed tattoos on beach-goers, wall-sized murals, photo-realism reproductions, classical frescos and abstract modern.

"That article made me realize who I am and what I am and that there is a reason why I can't stop doing this," Krivacs said. "It gave me more confidence."

Because his talents were a sudden onset of creative vision, Krivacs admitted to being intimidated when showing his work among artists who have studied their craft for a lifetime and have earned various degrees. Learning of his rare but documented condition has given him more validation, though even without marketing his work he has won several local awards and he has been asked to demonstrate his techniques in workshops.

"My family was amazed," Krivacs said about his art. "It just keeps going. I could see something anywhere and be inspired by it."

Even after painting faux finishes and murals for customers all day through his business, Creative Wall Enhancements, Krivacs craves time spent working on his own projects at night and on the weekends.

"My wife supports me and my son supports it," Krivacs said about the enormous time commitment his art has taken. "It keeps me busy but I'm happy and she's happy."

Krivacs is currently seeking to meet other people affected this way from a brain injury in hopes of learning more about himself and his condition. While he isn't quite sure where his constant creativity will lead him next, he hopes to one day live solely off the profits from his work, now selling in local galleries including the Arts and Framing gallery of Putnam, Conn. for $25 - $4,500.

For more information or to contact Tom Krivacs, call 782-7386.