Coronavirus News: West Coast artist donates 1,800 paintings to NYC hospital

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BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- An artist from the West Coast makes an incredible donation to a hospital in New York City.

Inside a truck was an unusual delivery made to Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn.

It wasn't medical supplies, but boxes loaded with paintings.

Eighteen hundred paintings. One for each and every worker.

Sheila Arthur Smith was the recipient of one of those paintings.

"Oh this is amazing. Oh my gosh. Oh my god," Smith said.

She handles patient accounts. But she was also a patient who battled COVID-19.

"I was very sick, I was in the hospital for eight days," Smith said. "I was able to walk out and a lot of people weren't."

The paintings are a gift from 32-year-old Michael Gittes, an artist from Los Angeles.

"I wanted to make sure each one of them felt everybody loves them," Gittes said.

Love and appreciation dedicated to those who are doing so much during the pandemic.

On the worst day at Interfaith, they treated 116 COVID-positive patients.

"I wanted to make sure it was going somewhere I have virtually no relation to," Gittes said. "Just to sort of highlight the idea that this is from everyone."

It was a profound sentiment according to the hospital's president.

"The fact that someone is really creating works of art which is in itself really spiritual and giving to people he doesn't know to show how appreciative he is of those health care workers efforts over the last three to four months is just incredible," President LaRay Brown said.

Michael painted about 100 flowers a day, not with a paintbrush, but a syringe, an abstract link to the medical community.

Unlike the thousands of meal donations and the evening applause, these paintings will last.

"They should feel proud and it should be a like a reward, I hope that everyday they see it and be reminded that what they're doing is important," Gittes said.

For Smith, the flower she received reminds her of the sister who fell to COVID-19.

"She died the same day I was released," Smith said. "This picture that I'm holding is in memory of her."

The project was financed by collectors who bought a handful of Gittes' flower paintings.

And while his work has been shown at museums in London and Paris, to him, this is more meaningful.

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