This coming Sunday, several very fast cars will drive around in a circle 200 times for a total distance of 500 miles, an annual tradition that has now been going on for exactly a century. Yes, it's the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, one of the premier events in the world in which drivers drive around in circles very fast, and for that momentous occasion, local artist David Uhl is the artist who designed the cover of the racing program. What that program will contain is less certain -- possibly something like "Drivers drive in circle. Repeat 199 times."
Uhl is mostly a painter of motorcycle-themed art, and his studio's art is actually licensed by Harley-Davidson -- in that regard, he's been called "the Norman Rockwell of Harley-Davidson artists." But he's had other ventures, as well; in fact, this isn't his first Indy 500 program cover -- that would have been in 2008 with his painting "Glorious Failure," which doesn't seem like the best title to be associated with a sporting event, but at least it's glorious.
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That painting depicted, as is Uhl's habit, times of yore in automobile racing, and "In the Beginning" ventures into similar territory, though this time perhaps more specific: After studying various photos of the first Indy 500 race in 1911, he combined a few of those images to create the scene of the race's first winner, Ray Harroun (who won the race in part due to his then-unorthodox use of the rear-view mirror), taking the lead. Here's what Uhl had to say about it:
After viewing hundreds of archival photographs, a singular image did not present itself as suitable for the occasion. Instead I chose to combine several elements to recreate this dramatic moment from the inaugural race. I especially was attracted to the elegance of the Victorian-clad spectators contrasted against the fierce, dusty drama unfolding on the track. It was not only an honor to be selected for this, but it was a really fun piece to dream up. I was elated to be invited to the museum to view the old glass plate negatives from the earliest of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's archives. Many great stories were told me by Mr. Donald Davidson, the historian at the museum, so I put some to paint.
In commemoration of the program cover, Uhl will be auctioning off two giclée 4.5'X10' prints of both paintings, signed by him, to the highest bidder. Care to place a bid? Email the gallery and name your price.