In 26 years of business, Christopher Glassman — general partner of Casual Graphics in Hays — has seen many projects come through his doors.
But he hadn’t seen anything quite like the 32-foot-wide, seven-panel painting featuring 210 species of African animals he was asked to reproduce in late October. The “African Menagerie” painting by American artist Brian Jarvi recently was displayed as a traveling exhibit at Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays.
“Something this size is a little bit different,” Glassman said. “Not just size, but the entire idea behind it, the project itself and what the project was all about.”
Museum staff contacted Glassman last fall about Jarvi’s desire to create a more manageable version of the art for displaying at smaller venues, as well as book projects and other possible uses.
The project included an 80-percent size reduction on stretched canvas, which took Glassman and his staff an estimated 110 hours to complete. Each panel was carefully brought from Sternberg to the Casual Graphics Studio, 121 W. Eighth, and scanned using special equipment. It then was printed on canvas and coated. The finished reproduction already has been sold and was displayed at a trade show in Las Vegas.
The small business in Hays was hired for the job after submitting a test sample.
Glassman is no stranger to fine art or larger pieces. He has helped several local artists reproduce their work. But this project was bigger than most, and commissioned by an internationally renowned wildlife artist who was only in Hays for a short time.
“He had never seen a system like what I’m doing, so that was unique to him,” Glassman said. “But it took a lot of reading and a lot of trial and error to commit to the system that we have.”
Additional prints also have been completed for book projects Jarvi is pursuing to feature his art.
Jarvi’s painting was 17 years in the making and required many trips to Africa. The exhibit seeks to raise awareness about pressing threats to African wildlife and is accompanied by information obtained during his travels.
Glassman, in learning about the project, said he was struck by the fact one of the animals’ greatest threats comes from indigenous people who hunt and kill the animals for food as they are faced with poverty and hunger.
“That, to me, is what stuck like glue was the fact those people over there … they’re kind of in some dire need and they’re going to eat these animals to stay alive,” Glassman said. “Either they figure out another revenue source to buy food, or these animals get eaten. It was interesting to be enlightened on that.”