Tahlequah Daily Press

November 30, 2013

Man Behind the Mask helping children in need

Sculptor auctioning off stormtrooper for Angel Tree

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Man Behind the Mask is auctioning off one of his prized art pieces to help a child in need this Christmas.

Mike Sutherland, who conceptualizes, builds and paints realistic sculptures from masking tape and automotive paint, announced the auction on his Facebook page, which can be found by searching for “The Man Behind the Mask” profile page.

Sutherland and his wife, Jamie, have sponsored an angel on the Salvation Army Angel Tree for the past four years.

This year, though, he decided to help others help out. He is auctioning off an 11-inch replica of a stormtrooper, the iconic bad guy from the Star Wars franchise. With that money, he will purchase gifts for his sponsored angel.

“Normally, we just [sponsor an angel] ourselves but we thought it would be a cool idea,” Sutherland said Friday. “I thought it would be cool to do that, to help a little kid out.”

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree is located in Oakwood Mall. This year, according to the local chapter of the Salvation Army, there were more than 200 angels representing upwards of 1,000 children. For those angels who don’t get a sponsor, though, the Salvation Army still provides them with some kind of gift.

The stormtrooper wasn’t made specifically for the auction.

“It’s one of my personal ones,” Sutherland said. “I’ve been busy with other Christmas orders, though. Some of the stuff I haven’t gotten to post because they’re surprises for people.”

He got the idea of auctioning off one of his art pieces from a similar occasion earlier this year, when he raised $140 that went toward tornado relief in Moore.

“I got the idea just from when I auctioned off Yoda,” he said.

As of Friday evening, the highest bid for the stormtrooper was $40.

“Either not too many people have seen it, or they don’t like the stormtrooper,” he joked.

The auction originally was scheduled to end Friday, but he extended the bidding period through Sunday evening because of a lack of bidding interest so far, and to give him more time to publicize it. People wanting to bid can go to his Facebook site and comment with their bid under the sculpture’s photo.

Sutherland’s stormtrooper took about five or six hours to craft and paint. It’s among dozens he’s made over the past four years. His hobby started while at work, painting drilling rigs for GEFCO in Enid. He had some extra masking tape left over and made a minnow-sized shark.

He assembles the figures by adding tape, piece by piece. He then adds paint. Many of his prominent works are often-macabre versions of pop culture heroes and villains. Earlier this year, his sculpture of Darth Vader was on display at an art gallery in Detroit for a Star Wars-themed review.