Only the best for the RipOff Artists

The RipOff Artists, a talented group of South Okanagan artists, is getting ready for their 2011 summer challenge, preparing to take on Grant Wood's American Gothic as their source art work.

JoAnn Turner does some sketching working on her rip off of Georgia O’Keefe during the 2009 RipOff Artists challenge. Works from all four years are on display through 4 p.m. tomorrow

If you were to ask what artists Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, Lawren Harris and Georgia O’Keefe all have in common, you wouldn’t be far wrong to say they are all hanging in the Leir House Cultural Centre in Penticton.

You would be wrong, though; just not far wrong. They all have been victims of the RipOff  Artists, who have been exhibiting their takes on famous works by these artists at Leir House over the last month in a retrospective of their four years of art theft. That show wraps up tomorrow at 4 p.m., giving the art thieves just enough time to prepare for this year’s challenge, which starts on July 4.

And this year, the group of talented South Okanagan artists plans to add Grant Wood’s American Gothic to their collection.

“All the really good ideas I’d ever had came to me while I was milking a cow,” said Grant Wood whose painting of the dour faced couple, he holding a pitchfork, is famous worldwide. Woods’ masterpiece became a national symbol and a vision of hope during the Depression that still resonates today.

“Because American Gothic is so iconic, it was the perfect mark for this year’s RipOff challenge,” said fibre artist Terry Irvine. As the group works on their forgeries, they are also going to be asking the question, “is the painting a celebration of American values or a satiric critique of the self-same thing?”

Now heading into their fifth year, the RipOff artists gather each July to take on a famous work and interpret it through their own vision and favourite media.

But this year, they’ve added an extra twist. Each artist has chosen another artist through which to interpret American Gothic.

The challenge is open to the public, so starting July 4, Terry Irvine, Thea Haubrich, Enid Baker and the  rest of their band of art thieves are encouraging the public to visit the Quail’s Nest Art Centre in Oliver and watch as ‘Picasso’, ‘Klimt’ and ‘Degas’ along with seven other famous artists spear their target using a variety of media including encaustic (wax), fabric, quilters, pottery and photography.

There will be an opening reception for the show on July 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. The artists continue working on the challenge continues daily at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until July 9 when the artists will show off their  latest creations. Or maybe it would be better to say thefts?

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