A marine artist who spends months of the year selling his artwork at fishing tournaments around the world is in eastern North Carolina this week for the Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament.
Each year, Big Rock chooses a featured artist to make a piece of art to auction off at the awards banquet at the end of the tournament.
Wilmington-based Steve Goione has been the featured artist at least ten times, more than any other.
This is his second consecutive year to be the featured artist.
He says his inspiration for his watercolor, pen and ink-based piece came from the bronze sculpture of the blue marlin near the weigh scales.
“When I was here last year, I couldn’t take my eyes off the fountain,” he said “It’s just the epicenter of Big Rock Landing and what this event is all about.”
The art includes subtle details like a Jarrett Bay boat, the event’s major sponsor.
You can also see the Big Rock Landing weigh scales, complete with a sign commemorating the 60th year.
“It wasn’t until I started watercoloring in the boat and the Big Rock Landing,” Goione said. “That’s when it hit me, I said okay, we got it.”
Event coordinator Teresa Holcombe said the story told through Goione’s artwork is exactly what they were hoping for in this year’s art.
“It is something we have wanted for a long time,” Holcombe said. “He was able to incorporate the boats, weigh scales and the marlin itself into the painting, which are the three key elements that are the basis for our event.”
However, the event is more than just boats and marlins.
Proceeds from the tournament, retail sales, and the auction at the end of the week benefit local charities.
Tournament director Crystal Hesmer said Goione’s artwork auctioned off for a Big Rock record in 2017.
“Last year when Steve raised the $25,000 in that one piece of art,” Hesmer said, “that was just another chunk of wonderful funds for our foundation that goes back to our charities and communities.”
Big Rock has raised $4.9 million in the past 60 years for charity.
The foundation hopes to surpass the $5 million mark this year, while Goione hopes to surpass the $25,000 artwork record.
“Knowing something that I created is just helping these charities and people appreciate it that much, it just puts a cap on the whole event,” Goione said. “All I want is to raise as much as we can so I feel like I did my job for the Big Rock.”
Last year, the tournament raised more than $600,000 for charities.
Goione said it just takes a couple of generous boats in the audience to push them to their goal.
The event begins Saturday at 7 p.m.