Work of Art
First-graders at Blue Earth Area Elementary School are going to tour the school today with a special mission in mind.
They are looking for a good spot to hang a piece of art that was recently donated to them.
The art is a full-size print of a painting by Eric Anfinson, called “The Red Balloon.”
Anfinson, 40, was born in Austin, but has now lived in Key West, Fla., for the past eight years.
“The Red Balloon” is loosely based on a 1957 movie short of the same name. It details a balloon following a boy around Paris, and even though bullies pop his balloon, a new one keeps showing up.
“The original painting is a 48-inch by 40-inch oil on canvas,” Anfinson says. “The boy in the painting is me, and the red balloon represents creativity. The balloon is not flying off, even though the boy is not holding onto the string.”
Anfinson attended Mankato State University, but not for art. He started to paint professionally when he moved to Key West.
In junior and senior high in Austin, Anfinson was very focused on sports.
In 1986, during his junior year in high school, he suffered a spinal cord injury in a football game between Austin and Mason City, Iowa. It left him paralyzed from the chest down.
Anfinson was strong and had a good attitude, says Angie Frundt of Blue Earth, who was a classmate of his all through high school.
“Eric came back to school after months of rehabilitation, where they taught him how to do all sorts of things,” Frundt says. “Once he got back they gave him equipment that helped him draw on the computer.”
A surgery on his hand left his thumb permanently pushed up against his first finger. He places the brush there, and it is kept in place as he uses his shoulder to move the brush.
It can take him several months to finish a painting. His original oil paintings sell for $3,200 each.
Another of Anfinson’s paintings, a girl in a field of sunflowers, called “Sunflower Girl,” was commissioned by Hormel in Austin to hang in their conference room in the Hormel Institute. It was unveiled in last October.
Anfinson says that painting is a visual interpretation of cancer research.
Anfinson and Frundt have remained good friends, and it is because of her that the donation was made.
“I won’t be coming to Minnesota for the dedication,” Anfinson says. “But my friend Angie will be doing the honors at the presentation.”
Frundt says Daniel and Jenny Lundquist donated the frame, and 8th Street Framing in Blue Earth donated the work to frame and matte it.
In addition, Juba’s Super Valu and Gartztke’s Greenhouse donated 24 red balloons for the first graders to have during the presentation of the print.
Frundt says the Anfinson print is part of the Art Masterpiece Program at the BEA Elementary. That program has been continued by Nancy Willette, who taught elementary art for several years. It focuses on exposing students tointeresting works of art.
More information about Anfinson and his art can be found at his web site, www.ericanfinsonpaintings.com‘>www.ericanfinsonpaintings.com.’>www.ericanfinsonpaintings.com‘>www.ericanfinsonpaintings.com.