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Self-Styled Journey Artist – KC STUDIO

Kansas Metropolis artist Steve Snell spent 88 days final summer time solo-canoeing the whole size of the Missouri River, diligently portray the encircling landscapes as he went. (from the artist)

From Three Forks, Montana, to St. Louis, the profiles and productiveness of canoeing all 2,341 miles of the Missouri River

Most working artists do not ponder the possibility of dying from their subsequent artistic endeavor.

Then there’s Steve Snell, a self-styled journey artist and affiliate professor of artwork on the Kansas Metropolis Artwork Institute, who spent 88 days final summer time solo-canoeing all 2,341 miles of the Missouri River, from Three Forks, Montana, to St. Louis. , whereas diligently portray the encircling landscapes as he went.

The then-39-year-old husband and father encountered surprises and challenges alongside the best way, and he could have pushed his luck a bit right here or there. However—spoiler alert—he made it safely again with nothing worse than a sore backside and stiff fingers from paddling his canoe as much as 12 hours a day for almost three months down America’s longest river.

“I did take out a life insurance coverage coverage, simply in case,” Snell lately recalled from the relative consolation of his Midtown studio’s intriguing “sofa boat”—a sofa that a number of years in the past he was a ship and later again right into a sofa. “And I lastly wrote my will.”

Though “there was undoubtedly a danger, I learn fairly a bit beforehand and talked to those that had paddled the entire thing earlier than,” he mentioned. “There’s a terrific on-line neighborhood of fellow paddlers. Not lots of people do it yearly, however folks do it.”

Snell’s personal voyage — made potential by a $15,000 grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, pre-purchases of his river work, a Kickstarter marketing campaign and a well timed sabbatical from KCAI — produced greater than 100 watercolor photos, executed largely at a succession of riverside campsites.

“You are switching places, which is good,” Snell mentioned. “That is the benefit of floating a river. Each evening, you are camped some other place. It is the identical river, however it’s not.”

Utilizing a number of cameras and a mini-drone, Snell shot intensive video of his shifting atmosphere in addition to of himself sharing his evolving ideas, whether or not wielding a paddle or a paintbrush. The ensuing video collection, “Journey Artwork on the Mighty Mo: A Portray Present about Paddling the Complete Missouri River,” is deliberate for 11 episodes and can most definitely debut this spring on YouTube.

Snell’s voyage produced greater than 100 watercolor photos, together with “Fourchette Bay, Ft. Peck Lake,”
executed largely at a succession of riverside campsites. (from the artist)

“Mighty Mo’s” mash-up of assorted inspirations and genres often is the first present of its form.

“I am not conscious of one other portray journey present,” he mentioned. “I did some analysis going into it. I sort of bought to this idea as a result of I wished to drift the river and I wished to color and I wished to make a film—and people had been three separate wishes.

“It is knowledgeable by documentary. It is knowledgeable by actuality TV. I believed, okay, possibly that is one thing that hasn’t fairly been achieved. It has parts of sit-down-and-paint and let-me-show-you-what-I am-working-on. However, on the identical time, let me use that as a vessel to inform a narrative.”

Just like the river, Snell’s story would include its personal twists and turns. He was definitely examined by the higher Missouri River breaks, the place he encountered his first dangerous climate and “these sorts of wind gusts that had been most likely an pointless danger to take,” he mentioned. “You study alongside the best way what’s okay and what’s not okay. What are my limits? I used to be most likely pushing it so far as I might go whereas staying within the boat. There have been like 20 spots that I wished to cease, however I used to be simply making an attempt to remain upright. I used to be near getting off in some unspecified time in the future, after which the climate calmed down.”

The best potential hazard was lake crossings, Snell mentioned, “as a result of there are some sections that it’s good to make a crossing which might be like one or two miles vast — and that may take 45 minutes. And so there can be no means I’d even take into consideration getting on the lake when the climate was blowing. You hold again and simply wait it out.”

Snell’s voyage produced greater than 100 watercolor photos, together with “Fourchette Bay, Ft. Peck Lake,”
executed largely at a succession of riverside campsites. (from the artist)

The Offended Cows Encounter

One other time, whereas tenting alongside Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota, Snell’s tent got here beneath assault. In a fashion of talking.

“I had pulled my tent farther from the water than regular, due to a extreme thunderstorm warning,” he mentioned. “It was about 10:30 at evening, and I began listening to this loud snorting and sort of hoof sounds proper exterior. At first, I believed it was a moose, and so I stayed actual quiet.

“It turned out it was only a actually, actually indignant cow or two or doubtlessly three. However, undoubtedly, there was one which was proper up on my tent and simply transferring it with its snout, snorting and sort of making groaning sounds. It lasted about half-hour. I feel I used to be actually the place they wished to sleep. There have been solely so many flat spots, and I picked that one, and I feel they had been actually mad that I used to be there.”

Snell managed to movie a little bit of the bovine brouhaha along with his GoPro digital camera, however “it was largely simply my response,” he mentioned. “It’ll make for some suspense. I used to be afraid that evening. I bought up at 4:30 the subsequent morning and packed up my gear, earlier than they bought again.”

Regardless of often disruptive climate and irritated cattle situations, Snell was in a position to deal with navigating America’s longest river. Singing to himself helped in a means that he would not have predicted.

“It was oddly new for me, as a result of I am not a singer,” he mentioned. “However if you’re out on the water with nobody round however the cows for days, you get alone together with your ideas. I discovered that if I used to be quiet for too lengthy, then my morale would dip.

“The thought that crossed my thoughts out there’s the way it might really feel completely timeless. You are feeling linked in a means with individuals who have been doing this for all of human existence. I had sure trendy conveniences, however on the identical time I felt that very human expertise that I discover to be very fulfilling. Life is straightforward. And I felt very alive.”

What’s subsequent for Snell? You’d by no means guess however hold onto your Huckleberry Finn straw hat.

Snell shot this picture from the canoe, close to Rulo, Nebraska. (from the artist)

“I need to construct a pretzel boat,” he mentioned. “It will lay flat, so it is extra like a raft. I’ve had this concept for a pair years. Going from Kansas Metropolis to St. Louis, I need to be the primary particular person to drift the state of Missouri on a pretzel boat.


“It simply appears like a good suggestion. It is a type of issues, just like the sofa boat. I do not assume you need to have the ‘why’ already found out to only do it. However you do it and then you definitely possibly discover out why. On the very minimal, I might see the pretzel as being a very enjoyable picture and vessel to convey folks collectively across the river. And so it would not simply be me. I’d need different folks to affix me on a weeklong float and journey to all these river cities alongside the Missouri. It will be nice if folks had been impressed not directly to understand the river extra.”

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