Life in Color
Despite struggles with epilepsy and autism, Hermosa Beach’s Dane Capo successfully turns artistic expression into a rewarding business.
Bold and vibrant pops of color are scattered throughout the Capos’ Hermosa Beach home, accentuated further by walls of son Dane’s artwork. The 20-year-old artist has been painting for four years, with a primary focus on portraits ranging from the local crossing guard to The Beatles. Images of Einstein, Matisse and Bob Dylan commingle with distant cousins of Dane’s, chromatic pandas and a larger-than-life sailor.
“One day Dane just decided to start painting, and that’s where he came from,” explains Dane’s mom, Krista Capo, pointing to a portrait of Matisse hanging on the family room wall.
When asked about his inspiration, Dane mentions “a tall grandmother who was an artist,” adding that his older sister, Alex, paints as well. Krista notes that the “tall grandmother” was her mother, and that most of Dane’s initial art supplies were originally hers before she passed.
According to Krista, her mother’s artistic genes skipped a generation. “I can’t paint or draw to save my life,” she says. “But it comes so naturally for [Dane].”
Diligent in his craft, Dane is consistently working in his studio, adding to his collection of paintings. “Sometimes I decide to paint every day; sometimes I paint [a few] times a week,” he notes.
When asked how long it takes to complete a painting, Dane replies, “It always depends on the size”—with larger works taking as long as two weeks.
Having begun as a natural inclination—a hobby, Dane’s interest in art has evolved into shows in Downtown LA, aspirations of opening his own gallery and reproductions of his artwork—from postcards to socks, available for purchase on his website.
“We’re working to create a business that’s based around his talent and his gifts,” Krista says, “because 90% of people with disabilities are unemployed.”
For Dane, who was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy at 10 months old and autism at the age of 5, artistic expression comes in many forms … in his paintings, yes, but also through his love of film. “When I graduate [Dane was recently accepted into The Los Angeles Film School], I’m thinking about being a second unit director, cinematographer or main unit director, first unit director, producer or art director,“ he says. “But I would still continue painting.”
Dane’s studio—an impressive add-on located above the Capos’ garage—was originally built as an in-home classroom. Today it serves as his working space and houses many of his original pieces of art.
“I sell reproductions and bags, and cards, and magnets, and socks … and I’m thinking about having coffee cups made,” Dane says. But he won’t sell any of his originals. “I just want to keep them.”
This February marks the “one-year anniversary since we started this crazy journey,” Krista notes. When he’s not painting in his studio or meeting with his mentor—artist and owner of Blindspot Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles, Denny Bales—Dane spends his Sundays riding the train and heading to the Hollywood Farmers Market, which (added bonus) happens to be near Dane’s new school.
With big dreams of owning his own gallery, a year of selling his work under his belt and more artistic study ahead, Dane has a lot on his plate. Ambition and talent go a long way, however, and Dane speaks about his endeavors with a cool optimism—like anything and everything is possible. Of course, having the immeasurable support of a loving family always helps, and Dane certainly has that.