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Ed Wheeler: Santa Classics
On view through February 7, 2021 and Online
The Butler Institute of American Art
Youngstown, Ohio

Santa Classics is a series of images created by artist, photographer Ed Wheeler that is sure to bring joy to museum visitors of all ages. In this exhibition, Wheeler combines a timeless figure with equally timeless paintings by imagining Santa entering the great masterworks of art, with humor and reverence for the original works.

Wheeler researches and selects paintings with compositions that would welcome a Santa intervention, or sometimes he just loves the painting and wants to be a part of it. To create these images, Wheeler uses a multi-step process to completely integrate himself dressed as Santa into the lighting, brushstrokes and tonal values of a particular painting while maintaining the fidelity of the original. In Wheeler’s work, Santa replaces a main figure in a painting, is added to a group composition, or is a single human presence in a landscape.

“Santa Classics” evolved from the humorous Holiday card wheeler created for his clients each year. He had his first Santa intervention vision for Emmanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware in 2011 while visiting the Met. When he added more Santa interventions to famous paintings and shared them with the world, it had all gone viral by 2013. Since then, Wheeler’s Santa Classics have been presented in galleries, museums, public spaces, and publications around the world.