BRISTOL -- When Richard Santorso retired from the City of Bristol Public Works Department, he began painting so much that it became easier for him to donate paintings or simply give them away.
Even though Santorso, a Bristol resident, has been painting for seven years since his retirement, it is something he has a history with it, he said, “I still have my first oil painting that I started when I was 11 and finished when I was 12.”
However, now 64, Santorso had never created so many paintings before he retired, and recently, “they covered every inch” of his house.
“You name it, I painted it. The paintings were of everything. Sports, mountains, oceans, portraits, flowers- anything that was a challenge, I painted,” he said. “I have sold many paintings, but my studio is getting full. I tried to market them, and that didn’t work, so I started to give them away. I have given away at least 800 paintings.”
He has sold and given away so many painting that they are scattered throughout the entire country, Santorso explained, and his wife, who is Chinese, has sent bunches to China. People have come from all over to pick up the paintings, he said, and “they would come for two or three, but were leaving with 25, or a hundred sometimes.”
He also donated paintings to Youth on Fire, a nonprofit organization based out of Hartford that focuses on improving the future of youth.
Stephan Palmer, director of the organization, explained the 30 paintings that Santorso donated will be sold at a fundraiser to raise proceeds for the organization to establish a location. Palmer noted that the public will be allowed to come and Santorso will be there.
“He has great attention to detail, a lot of talent and a giving heart towards youth,” Palmer said. “It’s a blessing for him to open up his heart. For him to open up and give up 30 paintings and then say he is willing to donate more when he creates them, is truly a blessing.”
Santorso has no problem parting with his paintings, he said, whether for profit or not, he was just happy people enjoyed them.
“There was probably $75,000 to $100,000 worth of artwork that I gave away. But, I’m happy to watch people take them,” he said. “If someone ever liked a painting, but couldn’t afford it, I would just give it to them. I was happy to watch people come and go through my paintings, enjoying them. I’m just really happy they went to good homes.”
Santorso is now starting to rebuild his collection, and is currently creating paintings for Sliders Bar & Grill in Middletown and Plainville.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-584-0501 x5088.