As word spread that the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was set to be announced, Minneapolis artist seangarrison packed up his supplies and made his way to the lawn outside the Hennepin County Government Center.
“I didn't expect the verdict to come, you know, to come through the way it did,” he said. “I expected to be in the middle of tear gas, rubber bullets and an extreme amount of emotion and energy.”
His piece “Walking on Air” started by expressing that frustration and anger with dark, aggressive colors — lots of black and red — that expressed the way he was feeling.
“That was the first thing that came out of my brush,” he said. “It was what I had expected things to turn out to be. And by the grace of God, it it didn't turn out that way.”
As news spread that the jury had found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd, “Walking on Air” exploded with bright colors. Shades of blue, yellow and orange sprung off the canvas, covering up the fearful expectations he carried along with him that afternoon.
The easel quickly caught the attention of MSNBC and host Chris Hayes, who interviewed seangarrison on his show “All in With Chris Hayes.” Hayes even mentioned on air that he would like to purchase the painting, should it ever go up for sale.
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Hayes gets his opportunity to add “Walking on Air” to his collection starting Wednesday. It is up for auction virtually through St. Paul-based Revere Auctions. The starting bid is $150,000, and seangarrison says he plans to use parts of the proceeds to support three nonprofits, as well as start his own foundation aimed at helping mitigate acts of violence in north Minneapolis.
The sale of “Walking on Air” will benefit Youth Link MN and the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery, as well as the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama.
As far as seangarrison’s expectations for “Walking on Air,” he said he is hopeful Hayes’ proposal to purchase his painting comes through.
“If I could give him a call, I would give him a buzz and say I'm gonna hold you to that,” he said.
Prints of “Walking on Air” are available through his website.
He joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer for a conversation hours before “Walking on Air” went on auction through St. Paul-based Revere Auctions. Click on the audio player above to hear their conversation.