Vincent Van Gogh came back to life, if only for one day, to celebrate his 157th birthday at Van Go’s Studio, Arts and Gifts in Covington.
The master Dutch painter, with his trademark bright red hair and dark red beard, simple suit, black clogs and startling ear bandage stopped by Carol Veliotis’ namesake studio to paint a little and blow out 157 candles.
Opening an art studio has always been a dream of Veliotis’, one she finally realized last November. And Van Gogh has always been one of Veliotis’ favorite artists.
"He made over 2,000 works of art, but only sold one during his lifetime to his brother. But I remember when his famous irises painting sold for $53 million. His work was simply despised when he was alive," she said.
Veliotis knows all of Van Gogh’s history and her Van Go Studio is filled with books about the painter. The name of her studio differs from Van Gogh’s, because of copyright issues. She said she’s always liked his art, from his dark and gloomy beginning, to the brighter colors and thicker strokes he used later in life.
Playing the part of Van Gogh was Dan Marineau, the owner of The Inn bed and breakfast in Covington and the director of music for St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Monroe. Marineau wore an older suit and hat, which he said reflected Van Gogh’s preference for the peasant class. Even his black Crocs were symbolic of the black clogs wore by the poorer Dutch classes. His wig and pasted on red beard were picked out by Marineau and a stylist in Atlanta.
“I looked on the internet and went to the library to find all the books I could. Pictures without his ear bandage are a lot more common, so I had look carefully for bandage pictures,” he said.
Veliotis bought 157 cupcakes to celebrate the anniversary of the artists. She also gave away live irises and sunflower seeds, two of Van Gogh’s favorite inspirations, had a sidewalk chalk competition and door prizes for visitors.
Veliotis said she hopes to celebrate Van Gogh’s birthday annually. She said her art studio and gift store, located at 5172 Floyd St., have something from everyone, with trinkets starting at $3 to works art costing up to $300.
“Opening my store has been a goal for more than 30 years. When most people are retiring, I’m starting on this risky venture to open my own art gallery during a recession,” she said. “But I love art.”