AS a child growing up in San Fernando Sirju Seeharack Mohan demonstrated superior skills in visual arts, designing and executing almost any idea once a pencil, paintbrush or other writing instruments reached in his hands.
"I do my work as gifts. Painting has been my hobby all of my life. I have given away hundreds of paintings. I am also a volunteer at the Broward County Sheriff's Office for the last 10 years. I did many portraits which I presented to them," Mohan said.
It is his love for the arts which landed the 77-year-old his latest award from the Pompano Beach Cultural Arts awards ceremony held on May 15 in Florida. He was nominated in the Visual Arts category, beating scores of competitors at the gala event. He did a live painting of 12 people dressed in Indian garments for a wedding, much to the appreciation of the audience.
Mohan told Newsday: "I feel so proud to receive this award. I have received about 20 awards from different events in different countries. I have had displays in almost all the cities on the east coast of the US. I always fly the TT flag anywhere I go."
The Pompano Beach Cultural Arts Committee created the award ceremony to recognise and honour the outstanding creativity in Pompano Beach.
Known as an artist, calligrapher and sculptor, among other titles, Mohan said he was delighted to share the work, having travelled the world doing so. He has been living in Florida for many years and recently visited his hometown of Friendship Village.
The ceremony recognised the outstanding creativity taking place in the city of Pompano Beach.
People were also honoured in categories such as dance, music, spoken word and theatre.
Mohan has completed portraits of people among them former US president Barack Obama, opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and former lieutenant governor in Florida, Jennifer Carroll (née Johnson), a Trinidad-born American.
He also presented a self-portrait of former present Anthony Carmona as well as to Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai when she visited TT.
The soft-spoken Mohan is also a board member of an NGO called Unity in the community.
"This organisation raises funds to give scholarship to students. Every year I do a local painting which I put up for auction. They are worth thousands of dollars and the mayor auctions them. I do not charge them because that is my contribution. Eight years now I am doing this with them," Mohan said.
He recalled that during the reign of two commissioners at the Broward County, he presented them with portraits of themselves free of charge.