Giant van Gogh painting towers over Goodland
Goodland’s 80-foot tall painting on an easel, “Three Sunflowers in a Vase”, is part of the van Gogh Project, a series of Big Easel paintings based on Vincent van Gogh‘s seven sunflower paintings. Van Gogh originally painted them in Arles, France, between 1888-1889. The project’s original intent was to reproduce all those paintings in seven different countries spanning the globe. However, Goodland’s giant van Gogh painting in Pioneer Park East has been the last one erected so far.
Each sculpture consists of a colossal hand-painted reproduction of one of the sunflower paintings. Each measures an impressive 24×32 feet (7×10 meters), resting on a 80-foot (25m) tall, 37,000 lbs. (17,000 kilograms) steel easel. Easel and painting together weigh approximately 45,000 lbs. (20,000 kgs).
The Big Easel project begins
Overall project began in spring 1997. Artist Cameron Cross selected sites that have a connection to sunflower agriculture or to van Gogh himself. Goodland was chosen because of its status as a center of sunflower production and marketing. Each painting takes approximately a month and a half of 10- to 12-hour work days to complete.
The giant van Gogh paintings dot the globe
The painting arrives in Goodland
In the spring of 2001, Cross painted Goodland’s giant van Gogh painting, “Three Sunflowers in a Vase”, in an unoccupied building in Downtown Goodland. The building was too small for the entire painting. Cross had to paint it in sections, then assemble it later. Goodland’s painting was erected June 19, 2001. Total cost was $150,000, partly funded by an attraction grant from Kansas Department of Commerce. The easel’s supports were sunk 35 feet into the ground.
The painting is refurbished
By 2012, the painting showed signs of wear. It even had been struck by lightning.
Cross inspected the painting in early July 2012. City crews removed it from its easel July 11, 2012, and laid it on the ground near the empty easel.
Cross had a small shelter from the fierce sun of the hottest month ever recorded. Because of the summer’s intense heat, he was only able to paint in morning and evening hours. In 2001, Cross had used van Gogh’s muted palette. In 2012, he used a brighter palette, which shows up much better, especially from a distance.
While approximately 50 spectators watched, City of Goodland’s crew hoisted the painting to the easel and welded it in place on the morning of July 23, 2012.
In 2004 Goodland Rotary Club erected a floodlight in front of the painting as part of their Rotary Centennial Project. The light makes the painting stand out and is visible from I-70. The Rotary volunteers also have erected brick sidewalks and viewing benches plus a visitors logbook, all south of the painting. The bricks in the sidewalks were reclaimed from Goodland’s Main Street.
The painting is recognized as a great place to visit
Sherman County voters chose Goodland’s painting as No. 5 in 2008’s Eight Wonders of Sherman County contest. Midwest Living, Kansas! Magazine, “Driving Across Kansas: The Guide to I-70” and RoadsideAmerica.com among others have recommended visiting the painting. 360Cities.com features a panorama of the painting.
How to view the giant van Gogh painting
To view the giant van Gogh painting, please park in one of the lots provided. One is a bit east of the Businesss Highway 24-Cherry Street intersection and the other is a bit north. The eastern one opens from Business 24 between Truck & Tractor Repair and the City of Goodland’s building. The northern one opens from 19th Street south of Dollar General and Bill’s Shootin’ Shop. The painting is always open for viewing. A picnic table sits under a gazebo.
Art in the Parks
Inspired by the van Gogh replica, local artists have painted smaller paintings on easels in Goodland city parks. The easiest way to view all the paintings on their easels is to start at the van Gogh Project painting in Pioneer Park East. Go to Steever Park for “You Are Here”, Chambers Park for “Picnic in the Park“, Gulick Park for “The Big Rooster“ and finally Rosewood Park for “Arapahoe Sun“.