CANNON BEACH, OR (March 2, 2016) — Claude Monet kept returning to the same field to paint his famous 25-canvas series of haystacks from the summer of 1890 through the spring of 1891.
Richard Gorsuch, an artist who worships at the ECC congregation Cannon Beach Community Church, has his own Haystack Rock on the Oregon coast. Throughout 2002, he returned to the same location every day to paint the iconic image.
On Easter, the church will install all 365 paintings in a showing Gorsuch titled “A Year of Faith, Hope and Love at Haystack Rock.” In addition to focusing on his study for longer than Monet did, Gorsuch had more to paint. Haystack Rock is 235 feet high and is home to a variety of seabirds.
On the final day of the project, Gorsuch wrote about why he embarked on the ambitious project and what kept him going. “All I can say is that God put the idea in my mind in 2001 while sitting in a Christmas church service at Cannon Beach Community Church. I sensed it was God’s will to read the Bible each day as well as pursue this project. And with the help of Jesus Christ, I began this one day at a time task, stayed the course, and finished what I started, painting over 23,000 square inches of artboards.”
Through the project, he said, he was “being immersed in all kinds of weather that was serene, colorful, and beautiful as well as in cool, misty days when the Rock was shrouded in fog and also in the wild and furious Pacific Northwest storms.”
Several of Gorsuch’s painting already hang in the church. In 2005, the congregation commissioned him to paint a representation of the founding of the church in 1930 for its 75th anniversary. The painting, called “Come to the Fire,” hangs in the foyer bearing the description, “Christ first called people together into a holy fire of love during the summer of 1927 at beach-fire worship gatherings, sparking the beginnings of Cannon Beach Community Church.”
Last year, pastor David Robinson asked Gorsuch to paint during both Easter services as well as give his testimony of seeking to bring glory to God through his art.
In a statement about his artistic mission, Gorsuch says, “My passion for living is always in full bloom when I am proclaiming the glory of the Lord with my graphic imagination and maximizing the use of the gifts and talents God has given me.”
Located in a small artist community, the church celebrates the arts weekly and annually through commissioned paintings, art shows, sacred dance, dramatic arts, worship arts, regular music concerts, as well as by providing rehearsal and creative space for the local Cannon Beach Chorus, the North Oregon Coast symphonic orchestra, a weeklong children’s art camp, and an annual choral conductors’ workshop sponsored by George Fox University.