North Country Inspiration: Painting for a cause

North Country Inspiration: Painting for a cause
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 7:05 AM EDT
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ALEXANDRIA BAY, New York (WWNY) - “It’s a learning process the whole way,” Joe Dunn said. “There’s so many ways you can create.”

Dunn, at age 78, was a late bloomer to painting. He only started about a year ago.

“I have been living with liver cancer the last 10 years,” he said. “I developed a new cell last year and had to start a new treatment. My neighbor thought that I should have something to occupy my time, so she showed me her artwork. Well, I tried it and I loved it. That started a passion in me that I had no idea I had.”

The more he practiced, the better he got and the less he was thinking about his cancer.

“I very rarely think of the cancer, I rarely am down about it,” he said. “I smile when I do it, there’s no disappointment, no whoopsies. If you make a mistake, someone will see the beauty of it.

Joe and his wife, Mary, actually thank his cancer for enabling him to find this creative side. Now they want to use his artistry to give back to cancer research, which has saved his life.

“When I was first diagnosed, they told me if my cancer came back, there was no hope,” he said. “And it did start growing again. However, a drug was developed two years prior to this diagnosis, that has me sitting right here talking to you now.”

On Friday, at his first-ever art gallery, he donated all of his proceeds back to cancer research.

“My saving grace is to have faith and hope,” he said. “Try and find the happiness that surrounds you. I’ve always been able to pick out the beautiful things and things that make me smile in life, and this is how I relate to my painting and my artistry.

Dunn’s battle with cancer continues, but so does his zest for life. With his positive mindset and a few acrylic paints, he’s not Joe the cancer patient, he’s Joe the artist.