GQ Archive


Pingry School Achievement in the Arts Award

Jon Sarkin is a prolific artist who creates elaborate drawings and paintings filled with words and images, among other artistic endeavors. Sarkin has been painting for over 20 years. His work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, ABC Primetime, This American Life, GQ, ARTNews, and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and around the world. He lives and works in Cape Ann, Massachusetts.


Jonathan Sarkin is a self-taught contemporary American artist.

See Sarkin on


Born in 1953 in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in Hillside, New Jersey, Jon Sarkin is the middle child of Stanley Sarkin and Elaine Sarkin Zheutlin. He graduated from the Pingry School in Elizabeth, New Jersey (since moved to Martinsville, New Jersey), in 1971. His father, a dentist in Elizabeth, New Jersey, died of a heart attack in 1972 at age 49.

In 1975, Jon graduated with a BA degree in Biology from The University of Pennsylvania, and received his MS degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University in 1977. He received his DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1980. His older brother, Richard, was a pediatrician, while his younger sister, Jane, is Features Editor for Vanity Fair. In 1982, Jon opened a Chiropractic office in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. In 1986 he married Kim Richardson.

In 1988 at the age of 35, Jon suddenly developed tinnitus, a ringing in the ears caused by a blood vessel in his head pushing against an acoustic nerve, as well as hyperacusis, an over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges of sound. In 1989, to alleviate the condition, he underwent surgery after which he suffered a cerebellar hemorrhage and a subsequent stroke. Jon awoke from the surgery deaf in one ear, his vision splintered, and his balance permanently skewed. Neurologists told him his brain had been permanently changed through the surgery, with parts sliced and removed to alleviate the condition. The neurons that were left had to make new connections and find new meaning.

As a result, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the semblance of his former life. Sarkin became obsessed with drawing, but different from the kinds of focused sketches he had made before the stroke. Instead of visual jokes and puns he drew before, his new works were akin to distorted cartoon faces with symbols that sometimes overlapped the features, like Jean Giraud’s Moebius strips. Influenced by comics and popular culture, the images kept coming, spilling out of some dark unknown place in his brain.

While strokes are common, the effects differ from patient to patient; Jon’s condition, known as “sudden artistic output”, is one of only three cases caused by brain injury to have ever been documented. Jon is unable to see the world as a whole, and unable to ignore it in its infinite detail. There are no filters, no chance for his brain to slow everything down and order the world into meaningful images and scenes. His brain constantly tries to make sense of the world, and he constantly tries to make sense of his brain’s failure – through colors and images and words. He cannot stop. He does not want to stop. In fact, he is afraid to stop. He is an accidental artist. He has the need to draw, to put it all down on paper. It is his engine, his purpose for living.

Jon has been featured in Vanity Fair, ABC Medical Mysteries Discovery Channel Documentary “Tormented by Genius,” GQ, ARTNews, and the American Visionary Art Museum. In addition, he has been featured in Art New England, 2011.

Jon created the album art for Guster’s latest album, Easy Wonderful, and he also created art for (and appears in) their music video/single “Do You Love Me?”  Tom Cruise’s production company is developing a movie based on his life story.  In 2011, Pulitzer Prize winning author Amy Ellis Nutt wrote a book about Jon Sarkin, “Shadows Bright as Glass,” for which she and Jon were interviewed by Terry Gross of NPR, Fresh Air.

In addition to elaborate drawings and paintings cluttered with words and images, Jon also paints portraiture, landscapes, and color fields devoid of complicated, overlapping images. Jon’s current studio is located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Jon lives in Rockport, Massachusetts with his wife Kim and son Curtis, and daughters Robin and Caroline. Jon continues to show his artwork around the world.


Sarkin’s Resume


94R Main Street

Rockport, MA  01930

(978) 282-0334

cell:  (978) 888-5320


1967-71:  The Pingry School, Elizabeth, NJ (now in Martinsville, NJ)

1971-75: Univ. of Penn. (BA, Biology)

1975-77:  Rutgers Univ. (MS, Environmental Science)

1977-80:  Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA

  (DC {Doctor of Chiropractic})

EXHIBITIONS (asterisk indicates solo exhibition):

*Mar., 2012:  The Pingry School, Martinsville, NJ
*Jan. – Mar., 2012:  Open Door Gallery,  Boston
*Dec., 2011:  Princeton Day School, Princeton, NJ
*April 2011:  PEAC Gallery, Pennington, NJ
*Feb., 2011:  Traylor Gallery, Hightstown, NJ
July 2010:  Bass Rocks Beach Club, Gloucester, MA 

Mar. – Apr. 2010:  Straube Gallery, Princeton, NJ

*Sept. 2009:  Blackburn Gallery, Gloucester, MA

Sept. 2009:  Traylor Gallery, Princeton, NJ

May 2009:  Riverfront Gallery, Millville, NJ

Sept. – Oct. 2008:  The Pingry School, Martinsville, NJ

*Sept. 2008:  Bait and Tackle Gallery, Gloucester, MA

*Aug. – Oct. 2008:  Shrine Gallery, Gloucester, MA

July 2008:  Bass Rocks Beach Club, Gloucester, MA 

July 2008:  Flat Rocks Gallery, Gloucester, MA

July 2008:  Blackburn Performing Arts Center, Gloucester, MA

July 2008:  Jane Deering Gallery, Gloucester, MA

June 2008:  Bob Woolf Gallery, Gloucester, MA

*Apr. 2008:  Home of Martin B. O’Connor II, New Vernon, NJ

Feb. 2008:  Novas Centre, Liverpool, England

Oct. 2007:  Philoctetes Center, New York

July 2007:  Bass Rocks Beach Club, Gloucester, MA

Mar. 2007:  Jane Deering Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

*Sept. 2006:  Bigzanda Gallery, Gloucester, MA

Apr. – Aug. 2006:  Decordova Museum, Lincoln, MA

Aug. 2006:  Jane Deering Gallery, Boston

July 2006:  Jane Deering Gallery, Gloucester, MA

*July 2006:  Earl McGrath Gallery, Los Angeles

July 2006:  Bass Rocks Beach Club, Gloucester, MA

Mar. 2007:  Jane Deering Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

*Sept. 2005:  Artspace Gallery, Gloucester, MA

*Aug. 2005:  Bigzanda Gallery, Gloucester, MA

July – Aug. 2005:  Jane Deering Gallery, Gloucester, MA

Mar. 2005:  Jane Deering Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

*Apr. 2005:  The Revolving Museum, Lowell, MA

July – Aug. 2004:  Jane Deering Gallery, Gloucester, MA

*Dec. 2004:  For Rent Gallery, Gloucester, MA

*Nov.  2004:  The Pingry School, New Vernon, NJ

*Nov. 2003:  Jim Budman Gallery, New York

*July 2003:  Sunny Day Gallery, Gloucester MA

*Mar. 2003:  Home of Martin B. O’Connor II, New Vernon, NJ 

Apr. 2003:  Diane von Furstenburg Gallery, New York

May 2000:  School Street Gallery, Rockport, MA

Oct. 1999:  School Street Galllery, Rockport, MA

Apr. 1999:  Organization of Independent Artists, New York 


Papers of Calvin Tomkins (The New Yorker Art Critic),  

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Tom Cruise (Actor), Los Angeles

Graydon Carter (Editor of Vanity Fair), New York

Annie Leibovitz (Photographer), New York

Bryan Lourd (Film Agent), Los Angeles

Paula Wagner (Head of United Artists Films), Los Angeles

Kevin Huvane (Film Agent), Los Angeles

Richard Lovett (Film Agent), Los Angeles

Billy Ray (Screenwriter), Los Angeles

Robert Bookman (Literary Agent), Los Angeles

Diane von Furstenburg (Fashion Designer), New York

Barry Diller (Media Mogul), New York

Mullen Advertising, Boston

Mark Wenneker (Creative Director, Mullen Advertising, Boston)

Alice Flaherty, MD (Neurologist, Author), Boston

Ira Glass (Radio Personality), Chicago

Amy Ellis Nutt (Journalist, Author), Newark, NJ

Jennifer Brown (Photographer), Newark, NJ

Andre Malok (Graphic Designer), Newark, NJ

Tony Millionaire (Artist), Pasadena, CA

Willie Alexander (Recording Artist), Gloucester, MA

Chris Lydon (Radio Personality), Boston

Jane Deering (Art Dealer), Boston

Mac Bell (Real Estate Developer), Gloucester, MA

Chris Brady (Chart Group), New York

Frank Shephard (Chart Group), New York

Decordova Museum, Lincoln, MA

Revolving Museum, Lowell, MA

The Pingry School, Martinsville, NJ 

Brian Rosenworcel (of the band Guster)

Adam Gardner (Guster)

Ryan Miller (Guster)


“Zine Dreams,” New York Times Magazine, David Gross, Dec. 3. 1996 

“Metamorphosis,” GQ , Andrew Corsello, Jan., 1997:

“Tom Cruise Buys Stroke Victim’s Story,” Mr. Showbiz,  Anonymous, Feb. 2, 1997

“Cruise Could Play Stroke Victim,” E! Online, Jeff B. Copeland, Feb. 5, 1997

“Hunting for the Sark,” The Finger, Sam Pratt, Apr. 20, 1998

“Artist Unleashed,” The Penn Gazette, Susan Lonkevich, May, 1999:

“Artistic Lightning,” Awakenings, Terri Knudsen, May 24, 1999

“Interview with Jon Sarkin,” The Boston Globe MagazineJohn Koch, May 9, 1999

“Seven Questions for Jon Sarkin,” Seven Questions, Tom Mangan, Jan., 2000

“An Oscar Story in the Making:  The Life Tom Cruise Just Had to Have,”

   The New York Post, Peter Sheridan, March 26, 2000:

“A Stroke of Genius,” North Shore Weekly, Linda Roth, June 4, 2000

“Sight and Sound,” ARTnews, Elisabeth Morse, July, 2000

“An Explosion That Changed Everything,” The London Telegraph,

   James Langton, Jan. 20, 2001:

“Heady Stuff,” Town Online, David Rattigan, Aug. 24, 2001

“Art out of Adversity,” Backroads of New England (Book Excerpt), Chris Spurling, 2001

“Getting a Good Laugh out of Life,” Gloucester Daily TimesGreg Cook, Feb. 12, 2003

“Stroke of Genius,” Newark Star-Ledger, Amy Ellis Nutt, Apr. 25, 2003:

“The Art of Healing:  Jon Sarkin’s Kinetic Vision,” Vanity Fair,

Kevin Sessums, May, 2003:

“The Awakening of Dr. Jonathan Sarkin, Artist,” Pingry ReviewRenee Walker, Nov., 2004:

“Life Through Paint and Canvas,” Gloucester Daily TimesGail McCarthy, Nov. 20, 2004:

“Stroke of Genius,” Reader’s Digest, Ellen Sherman, Sep., 2005:

“A Changed Man,” The Boston Globe, Geoff Edgers, June 11, 2006: 

“Jon Sarkin:  An Audio Slide Show,” The Boston Globe WebsiteJune 11, 2006: 

“Melding Art, Music and Words, ‘Big Top Road’ takes Cape Ann on a Ride

This  Weekend,” Gloucester Daily Times, Gail McCarthy, Oct. 12, 2006:

“The Science of Art,” Neurology Now, Linda Carroll, Nov.-Dec., 2006: 200602060-00020

“Local Artist Honored for Overcoming Disability with his Art,”  Gloucester Daily Times, Matthew Webster, 

March 13, 2007: 

“Painting the Mind,” Four Corners (Australia) June, 2007:  

“Sarkin Photo, Explained,” The Exhibitionist, Geoff Edgers, June 26, 2007

“A Rewired Mind” (Audiovisual Slide Show), Gloucester Daily Times,

    Oct. 2, 2007:

“Sarkin and McHugh at Novas Centre,” Novas Website, April 27, 2008

“Artist and Poet Jon Sarkin ’71 Donates His Time and Talent,”

The Pingry School, May 6, 2008:

“Jon Sarkin Hosts First Art Show on Rocky Neck,” Gloucester Daily Times, August 28, 2008

“On the Brain,” Publishers Weekly, Matthew Thorton, Oct. 27, 2008

“An Accidental Artist,” Newark Star Ledger, Amy Nutt, Nov. 23, 2008:

“Chat with ‘Accidental Artist’ Author Amy Ellis Nutt,” Newark Star Ledger On-line, Brian Donohue, Dec. 9. 2008:  

“Jon Sarkin:  A Medical Mystery and Artistic Savant,” Adam Klappholz, 

GQ On-line, Dec. 18. 2008:

“From Stroke Victim to Commissioned Artist:  The Curious Case of Jon Sarkin, Adam Klappholz, GQ On-line

  June 18, 2009:

“Unbound Creativity,”, June 5, 2009:

“Unbound,” Videography by Jess Pearson, Youtube, June 19, 2009:

“Jon Sarkin at Mullen Advertising,” Videography by Jess Pearson, Youtube, June 19, 2009

“Jon Sarkin Donates Art to WGBH Auction,” Youtube, May, 2010

“Tour of Jon Sarkin’s Studio,” YoutubeApril 27, 2010

“Life in a Day,” Youtube, July 24, 2010     

“Interview with Terry Gross on NPR re:  my biography, Shadows Bright as Glass, by Amy Ellis Nutt, NPR’s Fresh 

 Air, May, 2011:

“Broad Brushstrokes Obscure a View of Brain Trauma,” (Review of Shadows Bright as Glass), Abigail Zuger, 

 New York Times, May 31, 2011: 

“Mental Images,” Jan. 18, 2012, CHS Research Bulletin,, Alexandra Pappas:

“Jon Sarkin:  Compulsive Creativity,”

“Six People Who Gained Amazing Skills From Brain Injuries,”, Dec. 1. 2011:

“Healing Arts, Healing Hands,” Dec. 1, 2011, Today’s Chiropractic, Katie Brown:

Wikipedia entry:

“Showcasing the Work of an Outsider Artist,” Jan. 31, 2012, Boston Globe, Cate McQuaid:


The New Yorker

Penn Gazette

CD Cover: “Dog Bar Yacht Club,”  Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band

CD Cover:  “Light City,” Dan King

CD Cover:  “Western Lands,” Dan King

CD Cover:  “Easy Wonderful,” Guster

CD Cover:  “Welcome to the Carnival,” Bandit Kings


“The Connection,” (Chris Lydon, host), WBUR-FM

This American Life, (Ira Glass, host), WBUR-FM

BBC:  The World,” WGBH-FM


“Chronicle,” WCVB-TV (Boston)

“Stroke,” Discovery Channel

“Painting the Mind,” Australian and British TV

“Medical Mysteries,” ABC-News

“My Strange Brain,” Granada TV (UK)

“Profiles,” Cape Ann (MA) TV


“What’s Your Story:  Jon Sarkin at The Budman Studio, August, 

   2002,” Beautiful Films 


    *The rights to my life story have been purchased by United Artists for

        a film to be developed by Tom Cruise’s production company.  A script 

        has been written and a director has been chosen.

     *A website about me has been established.  Its URL is

      *A biography is being written about me by Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Ellis Nutt.  Release date is April, 2011.

*In 2005, I taught a master class at The Revolving Museum in Lowell, MA. 

*In 2000 and 2001, I was an artist-in-residence at the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA.

*From 2005 – 2009, I have been an artist-in-residence at The Pingry School in Martinsville, NJ, where, I have taught both art and English.

*I am currently writing my autobiography.


*I am currently writing an illustrating a novel.

*In 2007, I was awarded a Wynn Newhouse Foundation prize for artists with disabiltiies.

*I have written dozens of volumes of poetry.

*I have produced several hours of music.

*I starred in a multimedia show, Big Top Road, at the West End Theater in Gloucester, MA in October of 2006.   It featured the musicians Dave Mattucks on drums (George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Richard Thompson, Fairport Convention, Roseanne Cash, XTC), David Brown, guitar (Billy Joel, Paul McCartney), Wolf Ginandes, bass (Light City), Dan King, guitar (Light City), and Matt Webster, soundscapes.

*I was featured in the film “Polis is This:  The Life and Poetry of Charles Olson,” by filmaker Henry Ferrini.

*I was in the short film “The Ghost of Dogtown, by film-maker Chad Carlberg.

* I wrote a concert review abiout Bob Dylan that was published on The Boston Globe website.

*I created a music video (“I Never Wanted Everything”) for the musician Sten Bowen

in August of 2007 (Available on Youtube).

*I was the guest artist for the comic strip Maakies, by artist Tony Millionaire.

*I acted in the short film “Daniel” by film-maker Emile Doucette (Available on Youtube).

*I created a mural (26′ X 5′) for Mullen Advertising in Boston.

*I did a large painting as the backdrop for a music video by the guitarist David Patterson. This video is currently in production.

*From 2008 – 2012, I’ve donated artwork to an on-air auction on WGBH-TV (Boston).

*I served on a committee at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston that was forming an interdisciplinary program between doctors and artists.

*I did a music video with the band Guster in August, 2010.   

*I’ve done two performance art pieces while the band Guster plays:  one at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in March, 2011, and one at the Pingry School in Martinsville, NJ in March of 2012. 

*I designed a shirt for the Large Pelagics Research Center in Gloucester, MA.


Today’s Chiropractic

Healing Art, Healing Hands

By Katie Brown


For chiropractors, working with their hands has become second nature. From palpating subluxations to correcting them, chiropractors must continously be in tune with a patient’s body through their hands. In essence, a chiropractor’s care can often be compared to a form of art, carefully and meticulously targeting specific areas with refinement in the hopes of creating a fully functioning body.

So with such well-trained and fine-tuned hands, it’s no wonder many chiropractors have begun using their hands in a new venue—art. From photography to painting to sculpting, artists find themselves pushing their limits and testing their creativity through a variety of techniques and mediums. While Chiropractic may have been their original profession, these chiropractor artists have combined their chiropractic background with inspiration and creativity to produce their own one-of-a-kind artwork.

Jon Sarkin, D.C.

Today, Jon Sarkin is a world-renowned artist. His life almost seems surreal—he’s had interviews featured in GQ and Vanity Fair magazines, a book about himself called “Shadows Bright as Glass” written by Pulitzer Prize-
winning author Amy Ellis Nut, art featured on the cover of the American alternative rock band Guster’s 2010 album “Easy Wonderful” and the rights to a screenplay about his life bought by Paramount Pictures.

While his art now consumes his life, Sarkin had to pay a high price to discover his artistic talent. In 1989, after undergoing surgery to help relieve the ringing in his ears from the tinnitus that he had developed the year earlier, Sarkin suffered a stroke.

Prior to his stroke, Sarkin was a chiropractor. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in environmental science from Rutgers University, in 1980 Sarkin received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic. In 1982, Sarkin owned a chiropractic practice in South Hamilton, Mass. While Sarkin continued as a chiropractor for a few years after his stroke, he decided to sell his practice in 1994 due to difficulties he experienced with properly caring for his patients and also because of his new-found love of art.

For Sarkin, his transition from Chiropractic to art was an evolving process. “The transition was not a then-and-now transition,” he says. “The transformation for me was very challenging because I had a certain skill set as a chiropractor, and all of a sudden I wasn’t able to do it anymore.”

Sarkin says that the most challenging part of his stroke was not being the same person he once was, especially for his wife and children. But once Sarkin committed to his new profession, he noticed one glaring difference between being a chiropractor and an artist—the people. He notes that as a successful chiropractor, he was constantly busy and surrounded by people. However, as an artist, he spends most of his time alone, listening to talk radio to simply hear voices around him.

From album covers and photographs to wood and plastic, Sarkin uses an eclectic mix of materials and products on which to draw and paint. While some of his artwork can be found on more conventional backgrounds, like paper and canvas, Sarkin’s colorful, unfiltered artwork is sure to make a statement. “The primary thrust for me in visual arts is using permanent markers, colored pencils, paint and pastels,” he says. “Anything you can imagine drawing on, I draw on.”

While Sarkin’s artistic capabilities were not fully realized until he sold his chiropractic practice, art has always been a strong part of him, even as a chiropractor. “I’ve always been interested in art since I was a little kid,” he says. “I took art classes and liked going to museums, but I always considered it a vocation. I brought that same artistic sense to Chiropractic and thought about my practice in a holistic sense. In retrospect, I think what made me a good chiropractor is that I was able to look at Chiropractic differently.”

Even though Sarkin, whose artwork often sells for as much as $10,000, is now more focused on shading techniques and improving his work than adjustments and caring for patients, he says that it was his artistic mind that made him an effective chiropractor and continues to propel his success as an artist. “I brought my artistic sense to Chiropractic, and now I’ve simply retooled it,” he says. “What I’m doing now is not that different than what I was doing as a chiropractor. It’s the same brain, and I’m still the same person.”

Roy Halpern, D.C.

Like Sarkin, Roy Halpern’s beginning as an artist was somewhat accidental. About 10 years ago, Halpern, a chiropractor from Sebastopol, Calif., went to Alaska to watch the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a two-week-long, 1,150-mile journey from Anchorage to Nome. Working with the Iditarod Trail Committee as a chiropractor for both the dogs and mushers (the people relaying commands to the team of dogs), Halpern was able to see things others would never be able to experience.

“I saw wonderful places—the Northern Lights and the animals,” Halpern recalls. “I became obsessed with Alaska, and I would go during the winter and summer. I would be in the Arctic, looking for polar bears, walking with a moose and her baby or watching grizzly cubs nurse from their moms. I realized I was seeing things that people would never see, and I felt I must capture these moments. People need to see nature and appreciate the wild, so I started shooting pictures.”

While being a chiropractor led to the discovery of his passion for wildlife photography, a lower back injury in high school originally led him to Chiropractic. “I was taken by my father to the family chiropractor,” Halpern says. “I remembered him telling me, ‘Roy, this is a great profession, and you should consider being a chiropractor.’” Because he was not concerned with making a lifelong career choice at 14 years old, Halpern dismissed the idea and went to college with the hope of working with animals.

When he realized that his chosen career path may not provide the standard of living he was seeking, Halpern began searching for a career to better fit his personality and lifestyle—which at the time revolved around bodybuilding and nutrition. Soon, his childhood chiropractor entered his mind. After graduating from Palmer College of Chiropractic West in 1982, Halpern started his own practice, focusing on the diversified technique and utilizing chiropractic radiographs.

While he now works part-time four days a week, Halpern aims to split his time between Chiropractic and photography. Whether it is a 10-day-long excursion or a quick weekend trip to a local destination, Halpern has learned to wait patiently for the perfect shot. “Bear photographs are my favorite, but I was very excited to get my wolf shot,” he says. “I waited for six days in the rain. I took loads of bear photos, but I wanted that wolf. They are the hardest animals to photograph because they hate people and are elusive.”

For Halpern, nature photography is all about becoming one with nature and searching for “moments of grace,” or the timeless blending of humanity into the primal, untouched wilderness. “I was concerned that taking pictures would take me away from my true goal of being one with nature, but I was wrong,” he says. “It did not separate me from nature, but allowed me to focus on the other details I was missing—things like light, color, movement and composition. I started to realize that the camera allowed me to slow down and focus on my subjects.”

Uma Mulnick, D.C.

For the past 21 years, Mulnick has been running a successful chiropractic practice, Back County Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Idaho, with her husband Irwin. While she originally planned to become a midwife, Mulnick says a voice inside her told her not to limit herself and to care for the whole body. She received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Western States Chiropractic College, and a few years later, she and her husband opened their own general chiropractic practice, which also performs acupuncture, allergy care and sports medicine.

While healing through chiropractic care has been a major part of Mulnick’s life for the past 30 years, she recently discovered the healing power of art through mandalas. Meaning “sacred circle” in Sanskrit, mandalas are known for their meditative and healing energies due to the art form’s wholeness, which can be seen in its powerful center and symmetry.

Even though Mulnick began creating mandalas, which are colorful circles with an intricate geometric pattern, less than three years ago, art is not new to her. “As I look back through my life, I’ve always been doing something with art,” she says. During a Chopra Center retreat with her husband in September 2009, Mulnick came into contact with the work of Paul Heussenstamm, a famed mandala artist. “It touched the depths of my soul,” Mulnick recalls of her first encounter with Heussenstamm’s work. Upon hearing that he was coming to nearby Boise to teach others how to paint and create mandalas, Mulnick decided to take her first workshop.

Today, Mulnick not only creates mandalas, but she also holds monthly workshops, which typically last 10 to 12 hours in order for students to create a finished 12-by-12-inch mandala. “When I do workshops, it is very clear that I am not the teacher—the mandala is the teacher,” Mulnick says. “So for me, it works wonderfully with my chiropractic practice because it is another form of letting the patient heal.”

But creating an intricate, detailed mandala isn’t only for adults, as local fifth-grade students have been able to reap the benefits of the art of mandalas as well. Last year, as part of a program and grant through The Idaho Commission on the Arts and the Shelton Family Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation, Mulnick was given the opportunity to teach the healing power of mandalas to fifth graders at the Meadows Valley School in New Meadows, Idaho. “It was amazing to see the transformation of the kids and how they experienced the mandala’s calming effect,” Mulnick says.

Above all, Mulnick says what makes mandalas so special is their ability to not only help the artist achieve tranquility and peace, but the viewer as well. “The best thing I can say about mandalas is that they are a healing form of art,” she says. “We have them in our clinic, and people hang them in their homes or office—it is really healing. And when I paint, I am truly in a healing state of love.”

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#1. Man Has Part of Brain Removed After Stroke, Becomes Artist


At the age of 35, New Jersey man Jon Sarkin started to hear ringing in his ear. This was the type of ringing that, it turns out, could only be explained by overgrown blood vessels that require freaking brain surgery to fix.

Sarkin got his noggin cut open to fix the blood vessel, but later suffered a stroke and actually had to have part of his brain removed. All in all, it was almost the worst possible outcome for the surgery aside from death.

Or losing those awesome eyebrows.

Or at least, it would appear that way. Apparently the stroke and the brain surgery affected the “not being an artist” part of Sarkin’s brain, because after he left the hospital, the man became obsessed with drawing. Like the other people on this list, he had never shown any talent or flair for art, but became so fixated on it that he would rush off in the middle of family dinners to sketch symbols, draw objects and plain old paint for hours as ideas came to him — delicious mashed potatoes be damned!

Sinead O’Connor?

Sarkin was a chiropractor by trade, and actually returned to work, but he found no joy in savage neck twisting and back breaking anymore. He became withdrawn, and in between seeing patients, he would doodle obsessively. Then, his sister told him that if he liked drawing so dang much, he might as well make a buck or two at it. Sarkin sent a dozen drawings of weird and ghostly faces to The New Yorker, and much to his delight, the magazine bought them.

Dick Tracy?

From then on, the dude has been on an artistic roll. So much so that the doctors who examined him said his stroke has rewired his brain and given him something they dub “sudden artistic output,” a rare condition that has seen less than a handful of diagnosed cases ever (another of them being fellow Cracked listee Tommy McHugh), and which continues to mostly baffle the experts since it doesn’t really follow a specific pattern of brain injuries.

… Nixon?

Meanwhile, other national magazines such as GQ have bought Sarkin’s stuff, his paintings regularly sell for $10,000 a canvas and he’s had a book written about him. Oh, and Tom Cruise’s production company has actually bought the rights to his life story, so there’s a chance we could see Cruise himself play Jon Sarkin in a future biopic.

Read more: 6 People Who Gained Amazing Skills from Brain Injuries |


Greb-Anand interviews Sarkin

Capture the Extraordinary

by Laura Greb-Anand

As I was listening to NPR the other morning, Jon Sarkin’s voice just completely memorized me and I knew I wanted to steal some time with him. Jon suffered a stroke in 1998 while playing golf which turned him into a completely different person. Shortly after he arrived home, he began drawing cactuses over and over again almost in a compulsive way. Since then, art had a hold of him or maybe the other way around. Jon could not stop creating, painting, drawing, doodling, you name it. Empty sketch books became the home to several ideas with not one single blank page to be found. Not only are neurologists still trying to figure out what’s causing this infatuation with art after his stroke but his art has really come to live over the years.  His work was featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, ABC Primetime, This American Life, GQ, ArtNews, and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and around the world. I’m so honored to share this  interview with you.

Check out the interview here


“Metamorphosis” Story of the Week  1/14/2010

Some critics worry that smartphones and tablet computers will ruin our ability to focus on long form material. To fight this trend, we will have the editors of pick an essay for your weekend reading pleasure every week.

This week, editors Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky picked “Metamorphosis” by Andrew Corsello in the January 1997 issue of GQ.

Here’s why they picked it: “Had Corsello not written it so honestly, Jon Sarkin’s story would be near impossible to believe. A hard-working, creatively disinclined chiropractor, Sarkin suffered a stroke on October 20, 1988. It was the last day of his first life. In his second, which began the moment that blood vessel burst, Sarkin transformed into a massively prolific artist who had precious little in common with his previous self. An absolute classic.”