Van Gogh restored

7/19/2012

While the enormous reproduction of a Vincent Van Gogh painting in downtown Goodland more accurately could be described Kansas oddity rather than tourist attraction, it does have value to the Sherman County community.

Goodland city officials proved that recently when they agreed to cover the $15,000 needed to restore "Three Sunflowers in a Vase."

Mike Solomon, the economic development director for Sherman County, sees the benefits of the investment.

"Goodland and Sherman County produce more sunflowers than anywhere else in the state of Kansas," he said. "We are the sunflower capital of Kansas. And that painting shows this is what we are about. Once people get past the painting, they sometimes come down our downtown brick streets and visit our businesses. We see it as an opportunity."

The 24-foot-by-32-foot reproduction, which is perched atop an 80-foot easel, originally was installed in 2000. Canadian artist Cameron Cross created the project, and he's back in town to restore it. The effects of constant exposure to the northwest Kansas climate has taken its toll.

"It will take about two weeks to finish it but there have been some delays," Cross said. "The weather is hampering me. If it is 100 degrees outside, it is about 120 degrees on the fiberglass. I can't work on it in the heat. It is not good for the paint to cure in the heat."

So, travelers on Interstate 70 wishing to view the installation will need to drive into town. They will find Cross cleaning, repairing and repainting the massive piece on the ground next to the easel.

We applaud the city of Goodland for investing in the restoration. The $140,000 needed to create the unique piece was raised without any tax dollars involved.

We only can hope the artist is taking heed of the harsh weather conditions and their ability to deteriorate outdoor art. The city does not need to have the piece redone every 10 years.

If such permanent protective materials don't actually exist, the next time around city leaders might consider a different approach. Something more along the lines of the original intent of the Big Easel project, which was to showcase local contemporary artists on a rotating basis.

Still, this restoration effort is worth the money. "Three Sunflowers in a Vase" is not only an iconic Van Gogh image, it neatly fits the city's identity.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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