BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Great art is more than just decoration. It will make the viewer feel something.

Now, as Mike Schuh reports, a great artist from Baltimore has returned from his home in Italy to stage his latest show.

Hiding in plain sight in modern Baltimore, just behind the Venetian blinds,  is an artist who would be at home in Venice.

“I feel very lucky that when I get up in the morning, I’m anxious to go to work,” said Joe Sheppard.

Sheppard has been getting up to go to work for 84 years now. He paints, writes and sculpts. Brooks Robinson and the Pope have gotten the Joe Sheppard treatment. Bush, Mikulski, Schaefer, Ehrlich, Keeler and Benedict have also all been subjects.

“The idea of creating…the best part of creating is the initial idea,” he said. “`Oh,  I have an idea. This is going to be great.'”

Born in Owings Mills, he’s taught at MICA and now paints in his Mt. Vernon studio. But for half the year, he lives in Italy. He sculpts in a tiny town close to the marble mines that supplied Michelangelo.

A new show of Sheppard’s paintings will open in College Park in two weeks.

“You are sort of exposing yourself. It’s sort of like taking your clothes off and standing in front of people because what you’re doing is very intimate, your ideas and everything, and you’re putting them up in front of an audience,” he said.

At 84, he is still compelled to create.

“I don’t care if you’re a garbageman or what, but you gotta love what you’re doing. You gotta get up and say that I really love what I’m doing. It’s not what you’re doing. It’s your attitude toward it, I think,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard’s latest show will open on April 20 at a museum named after Sheppard at the University of Maryland.

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