The Big Easel Project began in 1996 when an artist and teacher, Cameron Cross, decided to contribute a work of art to the city in which he was teaching, Altona, Canada.
Cross decided an enlarged hand painted reproduction of one of Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower paintings, a public domain painting, resting on an enormous easel would make an appropriate landmark for the city.
The project soon began to take on a much larger scope. Cross decided to expand the project to seven easel?s with the easel acting an an internationally recognized symbol of art. With two easels already completed (Altona, Manitoba, Canada and Emerald, Queensland, Australia) Cross approached the city of Goodland, KS., for the third easel site.
The Big Easel project consists of a series of steel easels measuring 25 metres (80 feet high) and weighing 17,000 kilograms (45,000 pounds). The painting that rests on the easel is 7 metres x 10 metres (24 feet x 32 feet) These easels will eventually showcase the work of various local, national and international artists. Initially, a local artist would be commissioned to create the first painting on the easel. After a pre-determined amount of time, there would be a ‘call for submission’ across the state and/or country. At this time, a local ‘Big Easel Committee’ would select a new painting for the easel. The original work would be replaced by this new painting (by a different artist) and would be hoisted by crane and secured to the steel structure.
Sunflowers USA, a local Goodland group, helped bring the project to completion.