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his is the Kirchhoff Distributing Company "Family Portrait" I'm working on for the entrance way of the new facilities west of Dubuque on Chavenelle Drive. This is one of the largest Memories of a Lifetime pieces I've ever created. Its 10 feet long. The space in which it will be displayed is an expansive wall which is the first thing you see as you enter the front door of their reception area. I prepare such installations in close collaboration with the subject, in this case the Kirchhoff organization, a company with a long and celebrated history in the city's business community. Kirchhoff started out in the ice business, which became the ice cream business and beverage distribution business. Founded in 1915, it has served to support three generations of Kirchhoff families. It's a great family business story. What is exciting about this project is the antiques and memorabilia which was collected over the last year. Some of the items were discovered and purchased on E-Bay. But the real treasures were in drawers, cardboard boxes and photo albums belonging to family members.

The project started with the portraits of the three generation of Kirchhoff family members who have owned and managed the business since 1915.

Originally I prepared the portraits as pencil drawings. I may or may not color them depending on how things go together. But considering how colorful the objects are, especially the treasures associated with the Budweiser label, I decided to color the images. It does add time to the process, but if I didn't do color portraits, the images would look ghost like, and that wouldn't be desirable. Below are the drawings which form the basis of the composition.

The American flag is becoming an important compositional element in some of these assemblages. I was traveling on the Mississippi River by boat this summer, and in McGregor, Iowa, there is this huge American flag flying proudly. It was illuminated by a morning sun, and I had my best camera with me. I've got dazzling shots of an undulating flag waving in the breeze. The folds of the flag look like ocean waves. Though the flag is in the background of this composition, it still serves as a dramatic background and it comes through as you continue to gaze upon the piece.


Black and white version of Ron's new portrait. The color version is below.


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