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14-year-old artist overcomes obstacles
A 14-year-old painting prodigy is getting his own showcase in Tribeca in the form of an outdoor art gallery.
NEW YORK - Lebron James, Oprah Winfrey, John Lewis. They are some of the icons now lining a block of Hudson Street in Tribeca.
"These are all people that really inspire me," said Tyler Gordon, the artist.
At just 14 years old, Gordon's story is inspiring others.
He was born deaf, and while he regained his hearing through surgeries by the time he was six, his stutter persisted. The target of relentless bullying, Gordon started painting and quickly found his own signature style to create portraits of celebrities.
He's ended up meeting many of the celebrities he's painted, from JLo and Arod to Janet Jackson and Kevin Hart.
But not even that prepared him for a surprise phone call in November. On the other line was newly elected Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris, who had seen the portrait Gordon had painted of her.
"Hi, I'm calling to speak with the artist known as Tye, Tye you are amazing!" Harris is seen praising Gordon on a video recorded by her husband,
"She called from a private number and when she said 'It's Kamala Harris, we were shocked," Gordon said.
The video on the Vice President making the phone call was shared with Gordon's family and they shared it to YouTube. It soon went viral and caught the attention of Rich Russo, the managing director and chief creative officer of ad agency Arnold New York.
"Here's a kid born partially deaf, that lead to a stutter, that lead to being bullied and instead of closing up or doing what he could have done easily, he turned it into a great talent," Russo said. "I was taken not just by his talent but by him personally, his personality and his personal story,"
Russo's office at 200 Hudson street had a vacant storefront after a salon there closed, so he approached the building owner about creating an outdoor gallery of sorts, featuring Tyler's work.
"I'm just really grateful to have this opportunity," said Gordon, who lives in San Jose, but flew in for the gallery launch.
The exhibit coincides with Black History Month. Gordon hopes the icons' stories, and his own, serve as an inspiration to all who pass by.
"If you have dreams, if you want to do something, set a goal to achieve it," he said.
Gordon's "Icon Collection" will be up indefinitely. He's also working on a book of his paintings with a portion of proceeds set to go to his Tongue Tye-d foundation, which aims to raise awareness of and support other kids with speech impediments.