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 Vince Zenone  (1918 - 2004)

About: Vince Zenone


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Lived/Active: Louisiana/Alabama      Known for: streetscene, patriotic, figure, religion

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An example of work by Vince Zenone
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter in New Orleans, Vince Zenone did a watercolor titled "Rare Stamps Shop on Royal Street". It was purchased by Raymond Weill, who used the painting in his advertisements on the back cover of the "New Yorker" magazine.

Neal Auction Company
The following note and the reference to the obituary was submitted August 2004 and is from Kathleen Pendracky.

My father, Stephen Horbaty, knew Vince Zenone as a youngster in Philadelphia. Even in grade school Vince was considered a gifted artist. Like most everyone else at the time, his family experienced some hard times. Vince needed glasses to see and my father assisted in getting friends and acquaintances to chip in for a pair so that Vince could continue doing artwork.

I was sorry to hear he passed away. Within the last few years, he mailed me some of his artwork and continued to send fruitcakes intermittently. He played the harmonica for me and sang over the phone and promised to continue the last time I spoke with him.

He painted pictures of my mother and father. I still have them.

I first became acquainted with him when I was to be married. He and his wife sent me a set of dishes which I still have and use for only special occasions. When my mom died, my father remarried. After my dad died, he painted pictures of my father and stepmother dancing away. He would talk to my stepmother on the phone and sing to her "My Wild Irish Rose."

I communicated with him only infrequently. I know when his wife passed away he was devastated but he continued on.
Obituary from The Birmingham News, July 11, 2004

"The heart of an artist"

News staff writer

Vincent Zenone drew people to him.

The small, unassuming man with the big glasses, beret-like caps and a smile on his face was a constant presence at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Birmingham. He wandered lobbies and hallways with pad and charcoals or colored pencils in hand looking for people to sketch. He sketched patients. He sketched their families. He sketched staff.

He did this at no charge. For Zenone, a professional artist, it was a way of sharing his gift of drawing with others. His many subjects included the countless veterans he met as a volunteer with the VA Pals Program. He also visited nursing homes.

"He said he wanted to give back, and the Veterans Hospital was the place where he needed to be," said Patricia Fetzer, director of volunteers. "They loved him."

Zenone was born in Philadelphia to parents who had immigrated from Sicily. He and five brothers served in World War II. Zenone volunteered in 1944. After the war, he got married, moved to New York and then to New Orleans. He made Birmingham his home more than 20 years ago.

Zenone began his volunteer work with the VA in 1995, shortly after the death of his wife, Ann. He visited a couple of times of week. He had clocked more than 3,000 hours of service before his death at 86.

Zenone, from time to time, would bring in his portfolio from the studio of his Glen Iris home. When he lived in New Orleans, he painted a watercolor "Rare Stamps Shop on Royal Street," that later graced the back cover of New Yorker magazine.

Most of his renderings had military and flag scenes, invoking patriotism. Zenone's artwork also incorporated biblical themes, reflecting his deep-rooted Catholic faith.

"I have the most beautiful picture of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples," said Sister Virginia Delaney, vice president of mission integration at St. Vincent's Hospital.

Delaney met Zenone when he inquired about becoming involved with the hospital's pastoral care. They became friends.

Zenone would write her notes, drawing on the envelopes. He usually would sketch the nun on a motorcycle. There was no reason for that.

"He just did it for fun," Delaney said. "He had a really precious sense of humor."

He also had a caring heart. When Zenone learned that one of the hospital's young doctors was dying, he sketched a drawing of the physician's two children, with Jesus touching them both on the shoulders.

He worked all night to complete it. He took the drawing to the doctor's room the next day.

The doctor died that night, Delaney said.

"It was like Jesus would watch over them because he couldn't stay with them any longer ," Delaney said.

As his health started to fail this year, Zenone made fewer trips to visit his fellow veterans. He would call. Staff would call him.

Zenone found another way to give. He ordered pecan pies and would have them sent to the staff.

"They just started arriving," Fetzer said. "He must have sent about three of them. He just wanted to make sure we got them."

Zenone died June 24. His survivors, four brothers and a sister, are elderly and live in other states. They were not able to attend his funeral.

His many friends, including Delaney, became his surrogate family, attending his graveside services in Elmwood Cemetery.

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