The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 29, 2014

Giant footballs chosen as symbol for second SEK Art Fest

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A new theme and a new director have been announced for the SEK Art Fest’s second year in downtown Pittsburg, but the idea remains the same: to feature giant works of art that will attract visitors.

The inaugural event this past year featured coal buckets to pay homage to the mining heritage of the Little Balkans. Organizers said the display along Broadway brought thousands of people to downtown Pittsburg to sightsee and take photographs.

Each coal bucket was underwritten by local businesses and families. They were  auctioned in September to raise money for future efforts.

This year, the symbol chosen will be a nod to the area’s sports heritage.

“Giant footballs,” said Leslie Harris, new SEK Art Fest chairwoman. “Between Pittsburg State and all of our area high schools, Southeast Kansas has such a rich tradition of football excellence. We want to celebrate that by bringing sports and the arts together. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

As was the case last year, the footballs will be created by a manufacturer out of fiberglass and will be delivered pure white and unadorned to artists from throughout the Four-State Area.

The process to select the 36 artists who will paint on and decorate them is under way; Harris said she plans to announce the artists in April.

When finished, the 36 giant footballs will line Broadway in downtown Pittsburg from mid-June to early October. The number of statues and the length of time they will be displayed have increased from last year.

“Last year, there were 24 coal buckets on Broadway from June to early September,” said Harris, who succeeds Steve Robb as chairman of the SEK Art Fest steering committee. “We had tremendous support from our underwriters and the community last year, and we are able to increase the number of objects this year. We also wanted to keep them in downtown through Pitt State Homecoming in early October.”

Robb, who planted the seed for the idea of the downtown art exhibit and spearheaded the initial effort, will remain on the committee as underwriter relations chairman.

“I am very excited to help lead this wonderful effort,” said Harris. “I was very impressed with the coal buckets last year and all of the attention they brought to our community. I’m very much looking forward to working to expand upon that success. I think we have a really cool thing going here, and it’s an honor to continue what Steve Robb and so many passionate volunteers began.”

Harris graduated from Pittsburg State in 2005 with a degree in communication, and most recently worked at Names and Numbers and the SEK Humane Society. She is now a stay-at-home mother.


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