Local artist presents portrait to Purple Heart recipient

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Mon., Dec. 3, 2012
Julio Henriques presents his portrait of Sgt. Greg Caron of Ellington. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

All his life, Julio Henriques has been an artist. A visit to his South Windsor home and studio reveals walls covered with pencil portraits of Tiger Woods, Dale Earnhardt, Tom Brady (even though Henriques himself is a Giants fan), Roger Marist, Mark Maguire, Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa. But the muse he is most passionate about isn't sports – it's U.S. servicemen and women.

He recently completed a portrait of Sgt. Greg Caron, of Ellington, a Connecticut Marine who lost both of his legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in November of last year. On Thursday, Nov. 29, Henriques presented the portrait to Caron in person.

Henriques was first inspired to do Caron's portrait when he saw his headshot in an article. Using the headshot as a template, he began drawing. When Henriques noticed that Caron did not have his Purple Heart medal in the photo, he decided to include it in the portrait. For reference, he borrowed the Purple Heart of his neighbor, who was wounded in the Korean War.

Henriques himself was in the National Guard, but wanted to pursue a career with his artistic talent. “My biggest claim to fame was designing the Connecticut Lottery ticket in 1972,” he said. “I'm very proud of that. A lot of designers would have loved to have had that chance.”

Henriques is also in the process of getting a tribute he drew to the veterans of Desert Storm made into a postage stamp. He has also recently presented a portrait to Allison Gawlinski, a Connecticut native and graduate of the United States Air Force Academy who served in Afghanistan.

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