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Artist Depicts "Greatest Gifts"

Artist Depicts "Greatest Gifts"

Posted - Sep. 23, 2004 at 9:29 p.m.



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Ed Yeates ReportingOur newscasts are usually filled with lots of bad news most days, but sometimes, we can report on something that reminds us there is good in the world, even in difficult circumstances. Ed Yeates met a man -- an artist -- who may not have much more time, but is making every minute matter.

Clarence George climbs the stairs at a place called "Common Thread." Though only twenty percent of his dying heart is working right now, he's determined to paint a series of portraits, beginning with five-year-old old Austin Wilkerson.

Clarence George: "What could say more for the transplant program than this little boy five-years old, climbing a tree and picking plums a week after he's been in major surgery?"

Austin had only a day or two to live when a donor liver came through. His mom, Kristy says, “He’s doing well, really really well.”

From death's door to life, that's what these paintings will portray -- people who come to this house awaiting a transplant and get one, then leave alive and well.

Clarence George: "I titled this painting ‘The Greatest Gift’ because that is the greatest gift they could have."

So every day now, Austin goes to Clarence's room while he puts the finishing touches on this young boy's portrait.

Austin Wilkerson: “When I’m here, I show him how he’s doing and they buy me Twinkies and chips, and that’s it.”

Clarence has been waiting for his new heart for over a year. Though many Native Americans believe nothing should be removed from the body, Clarence is comfortable with his new thinking. If his dying heart is pulled out and a new one put in it's for a reason - to paint, like he's done as a Native American and Vietnam Veteran for 32 years now. Either way, he's at peace.

Clarence George: “This is my purpose for being here, and to continue this purpose, the Creator will see that I have another heart. If not, then my work is finished.”

Clarence's "Greatest Gifts," however many he completes - will be donated to Intermountain Donor Services.

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