It's not every day you get to see an enormous Van Gogh painting sitting on an easel in a small prairie town. But that's what we encountered recently when traveling through Kansas.
Goodland, in western Kansas, is said to have the World's Largest Easel. It's 80 feet tall and holds a 32 x 24-foot representation of one of Van Gogh's "Sunflower" paintings. The painting was constructed using 24 sheets of plywood surrounded by fiberglass mattes and layered with an industrial gel coat. The paint used was industrial acrylic urethane enamel, known for it's hardiness in extreme weather conditions. The easel is built of steel, weighing more than 40,000 pounds. The supports are sunk 35 feet into the ground.
Goodland's painting is a version of "Three Sunflowers In A Vase," one of a sunflower series created by the brilliant but troubled Van Gogh in the late 1880s. The creator of this artwork, Cameron Cross, has constructed three gigantic sunflower paintings. The first was in Altona, Manitoba (Cross' home town and the heart of Canada's sunflower growing region) in 1998, and in 1999 he finished another in Emerald, Australia.
Kansas is known as the "Sunflower State" and Goodland is at the center of the local sunflower industry, so it makes sense that the third and last Van Gogh easel should be located here. Cross completed the Goodland painting in about 2 months in 2001, in time for the city's annual Sunflower Festival.
If you Visit:
The painting is located in Goodland about a half-mile off I-70, along Hwy 24 (follow the signs). You're likely to spot the easel at a distance. The site has a small parking lot and some covered picnic tables are provided. A walk around the small park that's home to the painting gives you different angles and perspectives of the painting. It's lite up at night, something we did not observe during our daytime visit.
And if you're looking for some meat products or wild game processing, Bubba's just a short walk from the easel.