Dane Capo — Art, Dreams and Autism

Dano Capo in from of several painings with his two thumbs up

Dane Capo has long dreamed of data entry and loves to travel. His life took an unexpected turn when is grandmother passed away, leaving him all of her art equipment. Dane and his family discovered his hidden creative talent. He became a painter.

Dane likes an array of trailblazers of art, Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Frida Khalo, “and I even like Andy Warhol” he mentions. Dane’s journey has led him through a fantastic world of art, accompanied by any challenges that came with his many seizures and an autism diagnosis at age 5. On a lovely afternoon, ABILITY’s Chet Cooper, and talented service dog trainer Frank Mallatt, who also happens to be on the spectrum, chatted with Dane and his mother, Krista Capo.

Dane Capo sitting in front of his paintings of Picasso and Vincent van Gogh in their art studio

Dane was home-schooled and took a liking to studying art history. After his grandmother died, all of her paint supplies went to Dane. This is when he felt inspired to paint his interpretation of Matisse’s self-portrait. “It turned out absolutely amazing” Krista exclaimed. And so, he continued painting and studying art history. About three years later, Dane had his first show, and was hooked. “When he got so much recognition and finally felt like he had a purpose in his life because of the way people responded to his art, he decided that he would continue painting.” Krista shares.

Dane is not shy from the limelight. As a matter of fact, he is inching closer to a big goal. He says, “I always figured that the only time I would paint more was if there were a million people coming.”

After getting a job coach and interviewing several different places but not getting hired, Krista felt their biggest issue was that Dane wanted mainstream employment. “Those things aren’t available to him because he has a diagnosis of autism,” she explained. Due to lack of employability, they decided to take things into their own hands and started an art business. In California, after going through many job search agencies and too many interviews, they moved to Florida, just outside of Tampa. “There was no ability for him to move out of our house. Our house was small. He wasn’t having a life of independence in any way, shape, or form. He’s got 14 cousins here and some of them have kids. So he’s got, like, 9 second cousins. It’s cheaper long-term. We could afford to open the gallery space and have a place to operate this business properly.” says Krista.

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Dane’s parents secured him a house where he lives independently minutes from them with a roommate who’s neurotypical. He likes living on his own and without his parents. Next on Dane’s agenda? “I’m trying to find a girlfriend now,” he went on to exclaim, “If I ever get into working at an airline data entry position, then that can help me find a girlfriend.”

Dane Capo and his mother Krista in their art studio
Dane Capo and his mother Krista in their art studio

Frank had wise advice for Dane: “From my experience, or lack of experience, going online to find love in the neurotypical puddles has never been very comfortable. I would be happy as we evolve and get awareness out there to find places for people like us to maybe—or at least people who are OK with us to meet and greet. You might find with your artwork, you’ll be very surprised that you’re going to get a lot of attention. You’ll find people coming to you as opposed to you trying to get out there and get to them. You’re doing very good for yourself. You may not like what you’re doing, but you’re doing very well for yourself. And that unto itself is how love can be found unto itself.”

Dane Capo and his mother Krista in their art studio

Although Dane would much rather move to Italy than spend 10 or 20 years in Florida, Krista feels a great amount of growth in leaving California where everything was stagnant for them.

Dane has a hunger for travel, but also keeps his options open for the film and banking industries. He mused, “I would think that if it was like a traveling-related job that had me go for six months somewhere, then I would figure the film industry. But when non-traveling like that, I would figure airlines or banks or government or insurance offices… or government office or any office, airlines.”

Krista chimes in that he particularly wants jobs in those fields because they come with travel perks or free tickets to Disney. From free tickets to Disney or Universal, to film industry unions, he’s really thought all of this through.

Born and raised in Southern California, Dane’s parents fueled his love for travel, “We went to Australia twice, New Zealand once, South Africa once, Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, more than once, and Mexico and even went to Boston and New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge.”

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The family has recently opened a gallery by appointment only in Florida, where they currently reside. Since Dane taught a sold-out art class and was asked to teach a few more, Krista hopes to transition the classes into the art gallery. She feels if they can make that successful. She said, “We’ll be able to generate a sustainable income for him through teaching, which gives him a sense of purpose and pride in his life–which is something that’s hugely lacking for this population.”

Ringo Starr holding Beatles painting standing next to the artist Dane Capo
Ringo Starr holding his Beatles painting by Dane Capo

Frank had a few motivating words to add: “If I could encourage you to follow your dream as far as the data entry, if that’s what you want to do. Do it until you decide that that’s not what you want to do or enjoy it while you’re doing it. I actually wrote software myself for a while, and I really did enjoy it. It’s not something I would want to keep doing for the rest of my life, but I did enjoy it while I was doing it. I wrote software for one of the first distribution companies here in California for the cannabis industry. I wrote their software for their intake and outtake because nobody else wanted to do it at that point. And that’s data entry unto itself, and then they had me doing the data entry. It’s something to do, and there are niches there. Play around with it, find out what really draws your interest, and then run with it because they’re going to come at you very, very strongly. Our skill sets, especially when we have a high point, and if yours is data, you’re going to be just streaming good at it, and fast. And that’s what they cannot find with neurotypicals, to be honest.”

The art world has swung open a door of communication and a way for Dane to connect. And his fearless uninhibited approach as an artist sparks curiosity and motivates others to come back for more. Dane still dreams of data entry, travel and being a landlord. But for now, Dane shares his talent with the world.


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