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"Rocky on Parade" Unveiled
October 31, 2013
MACOMB, IL -- "An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea." – Buddha quotes.
Western Illinois University Art Professor Bill Howard certainly is a man who puts an idea into action … and knows how to rally people around making that mere thought a reality. Case in point: the new public art project at WIU, "Rocky on Parade." What started as a light conversation among friends after hours turned into a university-community partnership that benefits WIU art students, while paying homage to Western's mascot and bringing town and gown closer together.
"Rocky on Parade" was unveiled at the University's Town & Gown celebration Oct. 3 in Macomb. Inspired by successful projects like Cows on Parade in Chicago, "Rocky on Parade" features 14 life-size (and bigger than life-size) fiberglass bulldogs decorated by area artists. Visitors can pick up a map at the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce and other locations to follow the "dog walk" to view the Rocky sculptures. Using a design similar to WIU's iconic Rocky sculpture, located near Hanson Field, each bulldog was recently affixed to a concrete base and put on display at various locations throughout campus and in the City of Macomb. Rocky sponsors paid $1,500 or $3,000, depending on the size of the sculpture, with a portion of the donation going to Western's art department for student scholarships. According to Howard, nearly $10,000 was raised for the scholarship fund.
"This project celebrates the University's traditions, strengthens the unity of campus and community, contributes to the economic vitality and quality of life in Macomb and supports student scholarships," Howard explained. "This has been a wonderful experience watching Rocky on Parade develop into one of the largest public art projects in Macomb history. The overwhelming response from the community is a great reflection of our town and University."
Artists and their sponsors include Jan Clough - WIU Foundation; Linsey Lundeen – Sports Corner @ 124; Mason Karr - John and Dana Biernbaum and Joe Roselieb and Col. Rock III; Kappa Pi - McDonough District Hospital; Todd (TJ) Reedy - Blades; Nicole Rybarczyk - MidAmerica National Bank; Tyler Herald - Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Development Corp.; Don Crouch - Cathy Early, State Farm Insurance; Colleen Willey - Citizens Bank; Allison Hulslander - All Pets Veterinary Clinic; Deborah Sparrow - Nelson's Clothing; Deb Lutz - Josh and Mishelle Oaks and Ryan and Ann Ford; Charles Wright - Ken and Lorraine Epperson, Century 21 Purdum-Epperson; and Amanda Bratz - Purdum Gray Ingledue Beck, Inc.
Sponsor Cathy Early selected the design submitted by artist Don Crouch, which followed Van Gough's "Sunflowers" painting, but with a few special touches such as a State Farm-themed dog collar.
"I'm so glad that Bill Howard, the committee and College of Fine Arts and Communication Dean Clow got behind the project. I firmly believe that in a small town, part of what makes us strong is the collaborations or partnerships formed," she said. "For me, having the opportunity to own a Rocky, and to work with retired Art Department Chair Don Crouch was great. Rocky is now proudly displayed at my office. Seeing this every day reminds me of what a wonderful community I live in and how fortunate we are to have Western in our town. I commend all of the sponsors and artists for making this inaugural project so successful."
A "dog walk map" is available at wiu.edu/vpaps/rocky_on_parade/docs/ROP-map2.pdf. For more information on the "Rocky on Parade" project, visit wiu.edu/rockyonparade. The "Rocky on Parade" is a three-year project. The next round of Rockys will be unveiled in 2016.