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The Painter of Walford Way

Charlestown man uses art as medicine as he copes with cancer.

While Dennis Smith goes to his doctor’s appointments and takes his medicine, he said it’s his paintings that really help him deal with his cancer.

“I’m trying to fight it,” Smith said. “The art is keeping me alive. Keeping my spirits up.”

And, if painting is his primary medicine, he takes it at a high dosage.

During a recent conversation with Charlestown Patch, he said he can count at least 300 paintings in his Walford Way apartment right now—and that doesn’t include the pieces he stores at his sister’s place in New York, or the pieces that he has donated to nursing homes.

“I always try to keep two or three extra canvases around,” Smith said. “I can knock out two paintings a day.”

Smith said he doesn’t restrict himself to a style or medium—he moves freely from oils to acrylics and from folk art to fine art—he just paints what comes into his mind.

Sometimes, he paints at home, he said. Other times—when he fells well enough—he paints in Harvard Square. He said his license to paint in public has landed his pieces in the hands of a few notable people.

“Ted Kennedy, he picked up one of my pieces,” Smith said, “and Deval Patrick.”

While painting is an every-moment part of his life now, Smith said it hasn’t been a life-long hobby for him.

When an unrelated injury led doctors to discover his liver cancer 13 years ago, he started picking up his brushes from time to time. In 2005, though, his illness had advanced too far. He retired and took up painting more seriously.

”It’s like a lifeline in my veins now,” he said.

But his new occupation isn’t without its drawbacks. He’s running out of space to store his art, and has had trouble getting it to sell.

“I can’t do anything with these paintings. I have to dump it, man,” he said. “I just want to share my art, you know.”

Mel July 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Beautiful!
Katchoo July 18, 2012 at 02:24 PM
2 words....ART SHOW!
MLB July 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Thank you Charlestown Patch for sharing his story and paintings with us. It's as if Mr Smiths' art is also his medicine.His pictures are like his mantra. They have beauty and life! I would love the opportunity to see more of them and would proudly hang one on any of my walls. All the very best to you Mr. Smith!
Stephanie July 18, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Fantastic! I would love to see more, too. Maybe a local business could host a small display (a la Zumes before they temporarily closed) or several could host 1 or 2 and create an art walk. I'm undergoing cancer treatment at MGH and they have rotating galleries in the patient waiting rooms. Art can be very healing. Kudos for your work, and I wish you good health!
Dennis Smith July 19, 2012 at 03:49 AM
thanks for your encouragement ,how about it
Dennis Smith July 19, 2012 at 03:54 AM
THank you kindly. You lifted up my spirit, You are very welcome,at your early convenience, Art from the heart.
Dennis Smith July 19, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Thanks Stephanie, i would love to by grace, to find a home for the ones that can get close to someones heart, to lift their spirit up .
Dennis Smith July 19, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Thank you kindley Mel. longgevity Art from the heart
Joseph July 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
MGH, Knights, Johnnies, Edwards - All these seem like great locations to display your talent. Good health indeed.
Dennis Smith July 22, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Currently looking for a sponsor if anyone is interested...
Christina August 10, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Great work, Dennis! Charlestown Patch, why don't you get an online gallery going for Dennis so he can let us know where and when we can see/buy his works? What about the artist lofts on Medford - anyone over there willing to donate some space for a show?
Dennis Smith August 11, 2012 at 10:08 PM
IIN WILL BE AT THE EVENT, ART IN THE PARK, LOOKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN SEP 2012
Greg Jennings September 29, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Dennis, your work is truly an inspiration. As the founder of a local company, Simply Local Painting (www.simplylocalpainting.com), let me know if there is anything we can do to support you and your work. Looking forward to seeing more!

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