Fiendsco paints dreamy golf ball

Painting a large plastic golf ball was not on Giovanni Arellano’s artistic radar back in March. But when Cantigny presented the opportunity, the young West Chicago artist jumped at the chance. After all, it seemed meant to be.

The golf ball apparently attracts the hand of fate. It all started in 2018, when Pam Keller, another West Chicago artist, was randomly selected to decorate the Cantigny-sponsored ball that was part of a public art project hosted by Wheaton’s Fine and Cultural Arts Commission. The project was tied to that summer’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship at Chicago Golf Club. Eighteen 3-foot diameter golf balls were designed and painted for display around Wheaton—all by local female artists.

Keller had secretly hoped to be assigned the Cantigny ball because the park is one of her favorite places. Her late father and artistic mentor, John Cather, loved the park, too.

Keller’s golf ball design highlighted Cantigny’s military heritage, the McCormick mansion, colorful gardens, and of course, Cantigny Golf. The work was chosen “Best Ball Overall” by a panel of judges.

After the Wheaton exhibit ended, the dimpled masterpiece occupied a prominent spot outside the Cantigny Golf Academy for nearly four years. It held up well, but its vibrant colors were fading.

Early in 2022, an idea surfaced to redecorate the golf ball to coincide with Cantigny’s Mexican folk-art exhibit, “Alebrijes: Creatures of a Dream World.” But who would paint it?

Cantigny reached out to the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage, a partner in the exhibit, for a recommendation. Without hesitation, President and Founder Fernando Ramirez put forth the name of Giovanni Arellano, whose artistic identity is “Fiendsco.”

Once again, as in 2018, a skilled artist with meaningful Cantigny memories had fatefully emerged. Giovanni’s grandfather, Guadalupe, who lived and worked at Cantigny for 19 years, passed away in February at age 91. The golf ball design honors his memory.

Giovanni, 24, titled his work, “Full Circle in the Dream World.” It’s the perfect name for a round art piece reflecting deep and personal memories. The design is also colorful, fun, and dreamy, like the alebrije sculptures on display at Cantigny Park.

The full circle reference is nearly self-explanatory. As Giovanni explains, his grandfather’s adult life began after he was denied entry in World War II, due to a medical condition. Guadalupe was already on the West Coast, preparing to ship out, when he was sent home—a fateful turn that would make his time at Cantigny possible.

Giovanni believes Guadalupe was intended to survive, raise a family, and make his home at Cantigny. The artist also believes it was his destiny to create a work of art now displayed less than a mile from the barn he remembers through pictures of his dad’s youth.

That barn, gone now, was outside his grandfather’s home, located just off Mack Road. It’s painted on the golf ball, rendered from an old Polaroid. Look closely and you’ll see Guadalupe as well, in a prayerful pose and wearing a Cubs hat. Another figure is feeding a raccoon—a cartoonish depiction of Giovanni’s father, who grew up at Cantigny and loves animals.

And the eyes, all those eyes! They represent the artist’s belief in the coexistence of physical and metaphysical realms. Life is everywhere, he explains, and someone or something is always watching and observing.

As a hungry multimedia artist, Giovanni says painting a golf ball presented a challenge that enlightened him in many ways. He embraced it and made the most of the opportunity, working on the piece for about six weeks in the front window of Gallery 200 in West Chicago, where he had his own exhibition last winter.

Giovanni completed the ball on site at Cantigny Park, working side by side with the six alebrije artists from Mexico City. He cherishes that experience—an inspiring conclusion to a project that influenced a pivotal moment in Fiendsco’s career.

Today, the golf ball is displayed in the same location as the original version by Pam Keller. You can’t miss it as you enter Cantigny Golf from Mack Road and drive up the lane.

To learn more about Fiendsco, visit fiendsco.com or Instagram @fiendsco.