A majestic statue of Indiana sports legend Larry Bird launching a jump shot outside Hulman Center is long overdue. Bird’s positive impact on the national image of his alma mater, Indiana State University, and Terre Haute easily qualify him for such an honor.
We’re convinced the community agrees with that sentiment and that eventually the project will get done. In fact, it’s getting close, even though much remains to be accomplished before it happens.
As with many projects of this scope, obstacles occasionally arise, some of which may rankle otherwise strong proponents of a cause. Such was the case recently when a donor stepped forward with a commitment to fund the statue itself. The donor requested the right to choose the sculptor, which is not uncommon in instances such as this.
While the donation was very good news, the stipulation about the artist created an awkward situation. One of the longtime proponents of the project is Bill Wolfe, a well-known local artist who has already crafted several striking pieces of public art in the community, including a veterans monument on ISU’s campus and a statue of renowned poet Max Ehrmann at the corner of Seventh and Wabash.
Wolfe was understandably disappointed, and a little upset, about the development. He has produced some miniature replica Bird statues to promote the cause and undoubtedly hoped he would be the artist chosen to craft the statue. But Wolfe is a talented and classy guy who cares deeply about the community and is committed to the notion of public art displays. He is keenly aware that art is also a business and that sometimes business doesn’t swing your way.
The groups behind the Bird statue project — Indiana State University Foundation and the Larry Legend Foundation — deserve credit for their persistent efforts to make it happen. We hope Wolfe and the organizations will be able to work together in the future, even if a different artist eventually is chosen for the statue. Their continuing collaboration will be beneficial for all.