SAN MARCOS, Calif. — It brings great joy to an artist to share their work with millions of people. In this Zevely Zone, I went to San Marcos to meet an artist who received the nod of approval from CBS Sunday Morning.
For 92-year-old Joe Valentino, artistic inspiration rises and sets with the sun. "This is an interesting piece. We are kind of dealing with fantasy here," said Joe.
He tried to explain why he loves to use the symbol of the sun in most every piece of art he creates. Optimism? Warmth? "Yeah, I'm proverbially an optimist, I don't care what is coming my way I just have the view that things are good," said Joe who lives life on the sunny side up? "Yes, indeed on the sunny side up," agreed Joe.
Decades ago, CBS Sunday Morning started hand picking sun artwork made by viewers in all shapes and sizes, which in 1994 gave Joe an idea as bright as the sun. "Originally I sent the work to the attention of Charles Kuralt," said Joe. Kuralt didn't call, but a letter Joe received from the show was the next best thing. It read: "Dear Joe, the CBS Sunday Morning program is pleased to inform you that your art depicting the sun was selected amongst thousands of entries." It was hand signed by Ken Sable, the director of CBS News Sunday Morning. "That's quite an honor, yeah I get a kick out of seeing that," said Joe. All these years later, the thought of his art appearing on network news still makes Joe's face light up. "It's been my fifteen minutes I'll put it like that," said Joe.
CBS Sunday Morning has aired several of Joe's pieces over the decades. Joe's work combines tiny pieces of paper and paint; all individually cut, shaped and glued. "An instant flower," said Joe while working on his latest piece. The ideas just pop into his head. "Yeah, I live in a fantasy world, who has ever heard of an orange palm tree? But you know it's my show and I'll do whatever I feel like doing," said Joe. His career started on Madison Avenue in New York. He was an art director for the BBDO ad agency. "When I was a younger guy, there was a big resemblance between me and Ernie Kovacs, so much so I had a big mustache at that time," said Joe with a smile.
Joe followed the path of the sun west to sunny California. "It's been a good life, it's been a very good life," said Joe. He's quietly spent his golden years in the Golden State, never dreaming another news crew would call for an encore performance. "Now this is the second part of my 15 minutes of fame," said Joe.
It appears the sun isn't quite ready to set on Joe Valentino. "I don't think so, keep coming sun! Here comes the sun," sang Joe. The man with a love affair with the sun is once again on cloud nine.
Joe has no plans on retiring. He says the sun inspires him to get out of bed every morning with a smile. If you'd like to contact Joe about his artwork, please email him at email@example.com.
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