KERNVILLE, Calif. (KGET) — Adventist Health and KGET want to honor those who make Kern County a better place to live. One local artist is creating custom artwork for residents in the Kern River Valley and spreading cheer to the mountain community.

When an artist creates, it’s usually in a specific genre. Some paint portraits, while others might work in landscapes. And some find their niche in mechanical subjects, but as for Eddie Salazar — he’s only focused on smiles.

“That’s what I mainly do it for,” Salazar said. “Seeing the expression of people when I hand them their painting – ‘wow, this is exactly what I wanted’ – that’s the best feeling in the world.”

For this artist, the joy of painting is when he delivers his work.

“This is one of my pride and joys here in the Kern River Valley because everybody can see it,” Salazar said.

It’s all about the reaction from the customer and community.

“That’s what makes me feel good, you know, when people take pride in something that I do for the community.”

Eddie’s passion for art began with drawing for his mother.

“My mother always used to tell me, ‘Robert, go draw me something,'” Salazar said. “And I would say, ‘mom I want to go outside and play.’ She would say, ‘no, I grew up in a tough neighborhood.’ And so she would say, ‘stay inside,” so I wouldn’t get in trouble.”

He didn’t get recognized for his artwork until after he lost his mother.

“The same year I was winning all these awards she passed away when I was 16,” Salazar recalls. “She never got to see any of that.”

Salazar was encouraged in his art by his teacher Mrs. Yoshida while he was still in high school.

“Our class was drawing portraits of the other students and she said, ‘wow, you need to pursue this.'”

In 1996, Salazar earned a scholarship to Otis Parsons and his work was displayed at the UCLA Fowler Museum. Now, Eddie spends his time vending in Kernville creating custom artwork for locals and tourists.

For anyone interested in checking out Eddie’s work, you can catch him in front of That’s Italian restaurant in Kernville.

If you would like to have a portrait or custom painting by Eddie, you can send him all questions and requests directly to his email at