After looking at the portrait of Pope John Paul II hanging as part of an art exhibit at the Casa Manito Adult Day Care at 324 55th St. in West New York, it is hard to believe that the Pope did not sit for the portrait himself.
This painting, done by North Bergen resident Platon Kim, 79, is one in a series of portraits Kim had on display at the day care that he attends twice a week.
West New York resident James Belveduto, 87, also had his work displayed at the day care facility.
Victor Barrera, the owner of the day care, said that the art was displayed in West New York on Aug. 8 and 9 and will be displayed at Rise and Shine Adult Day Care in North Bergen on Aug. 12 and 13.
Not yet discovered
All of Kim's portraits are painted from pictures found in different magazines. Kim's collection of oil paintings includes portraits of all of the presidents, up to and including President George W. Bush, Pope John Paul II and many entertainment celebrities.
According to Kim, some of his paintings take as long as two weeks to complete.
"It depends on the photograph," said Kim, adding that the photographs that are dim or from a newspaper are harder to paint.
Kim, who was born in Korea and moved to China when he was 13, first came to the United States in 1977. He graduated from the Chintow University School of Art in China in 1945, but he says that he has been painting for as long as he can remember.
"Nobody told me to draw a picture or paint," said Kim about his natural desire to begin painting.
However, despite his talent, Kim has yet to find a buyer for any of his work.
"If somebody wants to buy, I will sell," said Kim, who said the only portrait not for sale is the painting of former President Ronald Reagan. "I want to sell the paintings but no one buys them."
Locally, Kim has done a family portrait for former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler.
Belveduto taught himself to paint after one of his grammar school teachers told him he had a talent in art.
"I practiced many hours," said Belveduto about how he taught himself to paint. Belveduto said that he learned most of his techniques from books.
While Belveduto uses pictures to create his paintings, such as those of the Titanic and the Barnegat Light House, he said that he also walks around his neighborhood and sketches scenes that he would like to paint.
Belveduto also has paintings of the water tower in Weehawken and the Emmerick House, a 100-year-old house on Park Avenue in West New York that was destroyed to build a parking lot.
Belveduto sells his paintings at affordable prices in art sales he holds at his home twice a year.
"My work is for the poor man," said Belveduto who sells his work between $10 and $50.
Although Belveduto used to paint more often, he said now he only paints about twice a month.
"I just think of it as a hobby," said Belveduto, who spends about six hours on each painting. "Now I just have too many obligations."