Knoxville, Tenn.--(UTSports) Artist and sculptor David Adickes met with the media Thursday morning, sharing how he planned and eventually created the centerpiece statue that will be unveiled Friday at the 11 a.m. dedication of Pat Summitt Plaza on the University of Tennessee campus.
The event, honoring the NCAA’s all-time coaching victories leader (with a 1,098-208 record), will be held at the newly-constructed plaza on the corner of Lake Loudoun Blvd. and Phillip Fulmer Way. The dedication is open to the public and will be streamed live on UTSports.com.
WHY ADICKES WAS CHOSEN FOR THE JOB
Adickes, at 86 years young, is known internationally for his large-scale sculptures. Among his works are The Virtuoso in his current residence of Houston, commissioned in 1983 by the Lyric Center; the 76-foot statue of Sam Houston in his native Huntsville, Texas; and the Stephen F. Austin statue, located in Henry Munson Park in Brazoria County, Texas. Other works include 17-foot-tall busts of U.S. presidents at parks in South Dakota and Williamsburg, Va., as well as a 30-foot-tall creative collection that includes each member of The Beatles playing their instruments.
Tennessee alum and UT Athletics donor Chris LaPorte, who lives in Texas, was very familiar with Adickes’ work and connected the two parties when the decision was made to create a statue honoring the legendary coach.
“First of all, it’s a great pleasure to be here to do a statue of this great iconic person known around the world,” Adickes said. “It was commissioned by the University through the generousness of Chris LaPorte, who I understand has a lot of things here (LaPorte Stadium track facility and LaPorte Strength & Conditioning Facility) named after him. He lives in Houston, he’s an ex (an alumnus), a great guy and a collector of my art, otherwise. That’s why I was chosen to do this statue.”
SHE LOOKS LIKE A WINNER
When creating a statue of the most successful NCAA basketball coach of all-time, it’s important that the finished product conveys the qualities possessed by the subject. Adickes is confident he created art that exudes the traits people associate with Summitt.
“I want it to look like a successful person, a successful life, successful winning the ball game, content,” Adickes said. “She’s leaning back, and I’m not supposed to describe the expression too much, but you’ll see it. She looks like a winner. If there’s one word I would use to describe it, it would be that. She looks like a winner.”
SIZING UP THE STATUE
Adickes said the statue stands eight feet, seven inches and weighs around 500 pounds. That measures well beyond the boundaries of life-size, which is fitting for a coach with a larger-than-life persona. Care was taken by the artist, though, to make sure the statue was not too big for its display area.
“(The University) wanted it life-sized,” Adickes said. “I had to convince them that, in my experience, a life-sized statue seen from afar looks diminished. In an interior (setting), life-sized looks O.K. But when it’s outside, normally 120 percent to 150 percent is about where it should be. I think she’s 144 percent of her real height.
“The size should be determined by the site where it is going to be. Of course (being in Houston) I wasn’t here, but understanding from the drawings what the plaza was going to look like, I figured (144 percent) was about right.”
IF THE SHOE FITS
Adickes brought a mystery item, wrapped in his sweater, to the media gathering. “Does anyone know what I have under my sweater?” he asked. Turns out the artist was carrying one of Summitt’s dress shoes, which he used during the creative process to help with the scale and detail of the statue.
“Since she couldn’t come down (to Houston), I asked Donna Thomas (UT senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator) to ‘just give me one of her shoes,’” Adickes revealed. This is her right shoe (holding it up). In the videos (of Summitt coaching) there were various heels and styles of shoes, and I wanted to get one that would work for this. This is it. I’m bringing it back to give it back to her.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND
The dedication is an outdoor event, and public seating will not be provided. Guests attending the ceremony will not be allowed to bring folding chairs of any kind.
Parking for the event will be available in the G-10 garage, located between Thompson-Boling Arena and Neyland Stadium. Access to G-10 will be via Neyland Drive only. Spaces for vehicles with disabled parking placards will be available in staff lot 23, located at the corner of Neyland and Lake Loudoun Blvd.
UT visitors and employees should be aware of temporary street closings for the dedication and plan travel accordingly.
Phillip Fulmer Way will close at 9 a.m. on Nov. 22 from the Andy Holt Tower administrative parking garage entrance to the intersection with Lake Loudoun Blvd. At 10:30 a.m., Lake Loudoun Blvd. will close from Neyland Drive to Volunteer Blvd. UTPD will manage traffic and crowd control for the event and will reopen streets when the crowd has dissipated following the event.