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November 4, 2013

MAX JONES: Picture story captures Bill Wolfe’s adventure

A casual visit prompts extensive photo documentary of sculptor’s Larry Bird statue

TERRE HAUTE — It was about one year ago when Tribune-Star chief photographer Joe Garza decided to stop by Bill Wolfe’s downtown studio to see what new projects were being born.

Wolfe, as attentive newspaper readers already know, is the prolific and versatile artist who has created a number of iconic local pieces, including the Max Ehrmann statue at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. On the day of Joe’s impromptu visit, Bill was busy planning the very early stages of a project that would dominate coming months — the creation of the Larry Bird statue, which will be dedicated Saturday on the south plaza in front of Indiana State University’s Hulman Center.

Joe realized, of course, that he’d arrived on the scene at an important moment. He soon began making pictures of the scene, recording the birth of a bigger-than-life statue that may well be Wolfe’s project of a lifetime.

Over time, Joe spent many hours with Bill in the studio and took hundreds of photos of the artist at work. From start to finish, our photographer recorded it all.

Thanks to Joe, Bill and the relationship they forged, Tribune-Star readers will have the opportunity to enjoy, through photos, the adventure of the Bird statue’s creation.

A photo essay on the project — showcased in a special section designed by Features Editor Alicia Morgan, who also supervises the production of our print and digital editions — will appear as an inserted special section in your Friday newspaper.

The story will unfold, too, on Friday’s front page through the carefully crafted words of columnist Mark Bennett. A multi-media presentation on the statue project will go up our website, www.tribstar.com, that same day, thanks to a collaboration between Joe and copy editor/page designer James Willis.

Although Joe’s enterprise as a photojournalist is what led to us undertaking this project, he has received great assistance and collaboration from colleagues on our newsroom staff.

Larry Bird has, of course, been part of local legend for more than 30 years, so it’s great to see this important part of Terre Haute and ISU history recognized in such a significant way.

On Friday night, Bird will attend and be honored with a banquet in Hulman Center designed to raise money for an ISU athletics scholarship fund that will carry his name. The statue dedication will take place on Saturday before the ISU men’s season-opening basketball game against Ball State.

In keeping with the build-up to the big weekend ahead, we’ve been revisiting Bird’s basketball career, beginning with his early years at Springs Valley High School through his ongoing time as an executive in the Indiana Pacers NBA organization.

Our four-part series began Sunday on the cover of our sports section and runs today, Tuesday and Wednesday. Our sports staff has done an exceptional job of capturing the truly remarkable nature of Bird’s career.

With Joe Garza’s photo essay and special section serving as the center piece,  the Tribune-Star has worked hard to channel its resources into coverage this week that readers will truly enjoy.

As always, we welcome your feedback.

Max Jones can be reached at 812-231-4336, or by email at max.jones@tribstar.com.

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