“I feel awesome,” Artist Cameron Cross said as he watched a crane hoist his giant Vincent van Gogh painting, a replica of “Three Sunflowers in a Vase”, onto its giant easel Monday morning, July 23, 2012, in Goodland. “[Repainting] was a challenging task, but it was very rewarding. I am so happy with the way it looks.” The painting and easel together stand three stories high.
Cross had repaired and repainted the Vincent van Gogh painting replica in the hottest summer in recent memory. The canvas felt like “the hood of a car in the summer,” he said. “When the air was 100 degrees, the canvas was 120 degrees.” The heat “curtailed” his painting hours, he said. “One time I stayed until 1 p.m. When I got away from the canvas, I felt cool.” He learned that the outdoor temperature was 101.
This time, he chose more vibrant colors than Vincent van Gogh had used when he painted the original Three Sunflowers in a Vase. “This is bolder with fewer details,” he said. “That will help with the fading over time.”
The number of visitors who came surprised him. “I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came to see the painting while I was working on it, people from Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Dallas, Atlanta. And these people already knew about it. They had seen it on the Internet or in a brochure they’d picked up at a visitors center.”
“A lot of hard work and effort went into this,” he said, “and I hope Goodland continues to benefit.”
“I spent a lot of time working with an immigration attorney in Kansas City,” City Manager Doug Gerber said. “We needed to get his visa to go through. That is a complicated process and was something we could not take on ourselves.”
Not only did the City need to bring the artist, but also they needed supplies. This posed some challenges as some of the previous vendors had gone out of business.
“The fiberglass vendor had died,” Economic Development Director Michael Solomon said, “and so we had to buy fiberglass from his sister. I had to go to Denver to get it.” The original paint dealer was from Canada, but that business had “gone under,” he said. “We found another vendor in St. Louis. I went to Salina Friday for clear coat” that sealed the painting.
The work was worth it. The painting “looks fantastic,” Solomon said.
“This repainting is a great thing for our city,” Goodland Mayor John Garcia said. “It should go for awhile with being repainted and resurfaced. Now people will see a better painting.”
Now that the painting has been replaced on its easel, Cross intends to work on extending his van Gogh Project to other sites around the world. Currently, paintings stand in Emerald, Queensland, Australia, and Altona, Manitoba, Canada. He is on a year’s sabbatical from the Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The City of Goodland wants to continue improving the park where the easel stands. Goodland Rotary Club has done much to beautify the park and the City intends to build upon that work.
“We have a lot of ideas for the future,” Gerber said. “We want to add to the park’s visual appeal with shrubs and trees and we want to build an electronic kiosk.” The kiosk would tell people about the painting and other Goodland attractions. “In the long term, I hope we could have a visitors center here.”
Even though “thousands and thousands of people stop here,” Garcia hopes the painting will continue to attract more. “I hope some of those who stop will make their way downtown.”