The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 16, 2014

Giant footballs arrive in Pittsburg; organizers seeking more underwriters, artists for event

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Twenty-four giant fiberglass footballs arrived in Pittsburg on Wednesday to officially kick off SEK Art Fest’s second annual public art event.

Provided the organization can find at least 12 more underwriters and a few more artists, the footballs will be transformed into works of art and be displayed in downtown Pittsburg and other locations in Southeast Kansas.

Artists originally had until March 31 to apply online at www.visitcrawfordcounty.com/sekartfest <http://www.visitcrawfordcounty.com/sekartfest> . That deadline has been extended until Friday to provide judges with a few more options from which to choose to ensure there is no duplication of similar ideas.

A panel of three judges will review applications and will announce the selected artists during the April 25 Art Walk in downtown Pittsburg through a “reveal” at the National Bank Building.

“We’re going to put their concepts, their sketches, up in the window to show everyone what these will become,” said Leslie Harris, who chairs the steering committee for the project.

All artists selected to participate will receive a stipend of $500 and a $100 material allowance. The footballs must be finished by June 14. A reception for artists and underwriters will be held June 19, and the art pieces will go on display on June 20 at the next Art Walk.

Last year’s event was a success both in terms of visitors and attention to the downtown,

According to B.J. Harris, who is Leslie’s husband and the director of the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Leslie Harris said she is hopeful this year’s event follows suit, but to do so it also will need more underwriters by Friday’s deadline; as of Wednesday there were just 12.

Last year’s inaugural installation, which featured coal buckets, was a nod to the heritage of an area built on mining. While some buckets included design elements that spoke to that heritage, many did not: there was a bucket with mosaic tile and Legos, one with signage from area restaurants and businesses and several with abstract art.

This year’s object was chosen because Pittsburg will play host to the Kansas Shrine Bowl in July, and to the 5A State Championship game the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s also a hotbed of football activity at the high school and university level.

“Last year, the bucket was chosen to tie in to the Smithsonian event out at the Miners Hall Museum in Franklin,” said B.J. Harris. “This year, the object is a nod to our sports heritage. I think it also as a side effect shows appreciation that we were selected to host these large events, and to welcome those who are coming to them.”

Leslie Harris said that the art designs conceptualized for the footballs do not have to have anything to do with football or even sports.

“We don’t want them all to have just school logos,” she said. “They can be literally anything an artist can dream up.”

Designs submitted to date include an octopus attacking the football, a gumball machine and a butterfly, among others.

“We had such a fantastic response from our inaugural event. People are excited to see what this year’s event will bring,” Leslie Harris said. “We just hope to have enough financial support to make it happen.”

Underwriters may sponsor a quarter of a football for $500, half of one for $1,000, or a full one for $1,995.

“It’s an ongoing recognition for that business or individual, with a plaque being on the object that they support. Plus, we’re hoping to include the underwriters on the back of a t-shirt and the event posters as well,” Leslie Harris said. “Not too many events last half a year with such publicity and support. It’s a great opportunity for a business to not only be in the limelight for quite a while, but also to support the arts in the area.”

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