Folks who saw Thomas Van Stein’s painting of the stairs that feature prominently in the film “The Exorcist” on Facebook might not realize that this piece was just the tip of the iceberg in Van Stein’s exploration into the edges of offbeat artistic exploration.

Van Stein painted the “Exorcist stairs” during a week of travel that included stops at Edgar Allen Poe’s home, favored bar, and gravesite in Baltimore; the stairs that Kurt Vonnegut fell down to his death; and Salem, Massachusetts, for, you know, Halloween. This is all part of an ongoing project Van Stein has with writer Robert Eringer titled “Surreal Bounce.” This website describes it better than we could hope to here, but in brief it is an exploration of the intersection of art, madness, and, at times, fraud. Tongues firmly in cheek, the duo travel across the world in search of hair-raising and consciousness-expanding experiences.

Van Stein’s setup on location

“When I was painting the painting, it was rather creepy, knowing what had taken place in the house next door, and the energy that surrounds that place and stairs,” Van Stein reports, buying in to the legend. “It’s not a good place to hang out for those with active imaginations. However, I am use to painting in creepy places, including cemeteries, insane asylums, and the like. So I grow stronger from the experience. I’ve learned to ignore the whispers and things that go bump in the night.”


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