By Bonnie Gangelhoff
What inspired your winning entry? I found the background cloth years ago and was saving it for something special. The large pot is one of my favorite objects. The two worked perfectly together. That morning I also stopped at a local farmer’s market to see if they had anything I could use in the setup, and one of the vendors happened to be giving away sprigs of eucalyptus that were getting old. It seemed everything just fell together.
Do you come from an artistic background? No. But my family has always been extremely supportive.
Where did you study art? I studied for four years at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL. After graduating, my wife and I then moved to Italy, and we both studied for three more years at the Florence Academy of Art.
What is your favorite subject matter and why? I do mostly large biblical narratives or narratives that are inspired by literature influenced by biblical themes. As a believer, these are of the most interest to me. They deal with very serious subjects that address all of humanity and our condition.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Never settle. Never be content with your work; there is always a higher peak to reach. As soon as you let yourself become complacent, you will stagnate and go nowhere. This is the same advice I give all my students over and over again.
What is the most meaningful recognition you have received for your artwork? In my last year at the Florence Academy of Art, one of my works was awarded Best Painting of the Year. There was such amazing work being done at the academy, and the bar was set very high. It was a great honor to be selected.
What is the one thing people will never see you paint? I hope no one will ever see me paint something that is not important to me, doesn’t move me, and doesn’t challenge me or the viewer in some way.
Future goals? I want to continue to grow as an artist. I also hope to continue to pass on what I’ve learned, inspire the next generation of artists, and maybe paint at least one painting in my life that could hang in the same room as a Rembrandt.
Featured in December 2011.