Jan. 6, 2012
The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee's charitable initiative announced today that it has commissioned and will donate a sculpture honoring Purdue All-American and UCLA coaching legend John Wooden for installation on Georgia Street downtown. The City of Indianapolis has accepted the sculpture, created by Indiana-born artist Jeffrey Rouse. Plans are underway to place the artwork just west of Meridian Street in the Georgia Street median around the time of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament and the NCAA's "Selection Sunday" festivities for the 2012 Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments.
The reconstructed section of Georgia Street between Pennsylvania Street and Capitol Avenue was unveiled in late September as a pedestrian-friendly streetscape featuring a wide pedestrian mall in its median. It connects Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium and serves as a new downtown gathering place also designed to reflect the character and achievements of Hoosiers.
It ultimately will feature up to 30 pillars honoring Indiana luminaries from business, the arts and sciences, public service and sports. The first 10 honorees were announced in December by Mayor Greg Ballard and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee. Plans call for at least three additional public art installations apart from the pillars, with the Wooden sculpture being the first.
"Last spring we were approached by several private donors who wanted to support public art downtown as part of the Super Bowl," said Mark Miles, Host Committee chairman. "We loved the idea and saw an opportunity to combine it with the plans to redevelop Georgia Street and leave a lasting legacy for downtown visitors."
Miles noted that the sculpture has been funded by these private contributions as well as a grant from the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission. The Host Committee is currently conducting additional fundraising to finalize the project. Miles hopes that all of the donors will agree to be made public at the unveiling in March.
The idea of Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach and Purdue Boilermaker from Martinsville, Ind., as the subject of the artwork was suggested by one of the donors and was quickly embraced by Host Committee and City leaders.
"Public art is an important part of a vibrant downtown, and we appreciate the opportunity to incorporate compelling artwork into Georgia Street while honoring a great Hoosier like Coach Wooden," said Mayor Ballard. "We value the generosity of the donors and the support of the Host Committee in making this happen."
Indianapolis Downtown Inc. (IDI) is the organization responsible for operating and maintaining Georgia Street as a downtown amenity and event venue on behalf of the City. Looking forward, IDI will work with the Arts Council of Indianapolis, which will engage the visual arts community and civic organizations like the Indianapolis Urban League and others, to plan for potential future public art installations along Georgia Street.