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Homeless artist's sketches brings smiles to Newport Beach coffee shop patrons

February 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Patrons of a Newport Beach coffee shop are getting more than just a cup of joe each morning. They're also getting their faces sketched on cup lids by an artist down on his luck, who wants nothing more than to make people smile.

"You think he's just your average homeless guy and you don't pay much attention to him," said Marc Foster of Newport Beach.

But Gisberto Bertucci, known as Bert, has a talent.

"He does beautiful work and he does it in a couple of minutes," said Partrick Ward, another Newport Beach resident.

The 70-year-old Bertucci started sketching the regulars.

"I think the major thing, I look into the person, if I can catch the eyes," Bertucci said.

It all started when Bertucci says he wanted to decorate a bare Christmas tree with the coffee lids. One of the regulars had another idea. After the holidays, he created a board that now makes customers slow down and learn more about the artist behind it.

Bertucci lives a simple life. He sleeps in a camper in Costa Mesa, then catches the bus each day to play chess in Laguna Beach. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal oral cancer. He gets emotional talking about how Hoag Hospital helped him.

The coffee shop patrons describe him as a positive person. Bertucci himself says his motto is to be happy. His dream is to spend his final years back home in Italy. His friends hope to start a collection to help him to thank him for touching their lives.

"Bert is genuine. He's a guy who smells the flowers and we should all have a little of Bert in us," Foster said.


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