By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Luis Santeiro has spent the last 40 years working with words.

The multiple Emmy winner has been a principal writer for Sesame Street and ¿Qué Pasa, USA?, a playwright, and an author.

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Now he paints.

“It has been my zen, my sanity throughout COVID,” he said. “When COVID began and I went down to Miami to stay with my sister, two and a half months, and I decided to take my paints.”

Santeiro has deep roots in the Miami Cuban exile community. Some of his early paintings reflect his childhood on the island, including one of Havana’s Carnival as he remembered it.

“It was one of the most wonderful memories as a child, go to the Carnival, you know, throw confetti,” he said.

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Other memories are not so good. Santeiro painted those too including their family home.

“Everything was burned when we the left, the animals were killed, the house torn down. She (Santeiro’s grandmother) built a little house, she would go there and sit there across from those ruins.”

Like many others during the pandemic, Santeiro had time to pursue his long lost hobby. His most recent works are intricate and detailed, some might say primitive. They include depictions of contemporary New York, the Thanksgiving Day parade, and the near-deserted streets of the city’s theater district.

“I loved the theater, probably what I loved the most was writing for the theater,” he said.

Santeiro said each of his paintings contains multiple stories. He admits he’s a writer, not a trained painter, but would like to see where it leads.

“I thought okay, I don’t know how far this will go. It could be something that I wrap my mind around for the next few years,” he said.

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Santeiro said his friends want him to set up a website and market his paintings. His answer is no, not until the pandemic is over and then maybe he will consider it.