On Thursday, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority and South Shore Arts unveiled the Lake County bison for the State's Bison-tennial project at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.
The Bison-tennial Public Art Project was coordinated through the Indiana Association of United Ways and is a Bicentennial Legacy Project to help celebrate Indiana's 200th birthday. The bison is approx. 5-foot tall and made of fiberglass. There is at least one bison on display in each of Indiana's 92 counties. The Lake County bison will be a part of a number of Bicentennial events in 2016.
Region artist, Felix ‘Flex’ Maldonado was chosen from amongst dozens of other Lake County artists who submitted their artwork during the open call. The South Shore CVA selected Maldonado to paint the bison to represent the South Shore and specifically Lake County.
“They asked that I come up with something that represents the area but not so much in a literal way as far as icons or buildings,” Maldonado said. “They wanted it to be little more modern and representational of what the elements out here are about.”
“If you see the front of it, it starts out with a relatively realistic looking bison and then it turns into a fiery sort of color which indicates the forging of steel out here,” said Maldonado. “The top, I painted with chrome to reflect the sky and be representative of that industry. The bottom brown part which represents the dunes and the staccato look of the blue shapes is the water of Lake Michigan.”
“It’s really kind of simple,” said Maldonado of the project, which took him around two weeks to complete.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority began their artist search a couple months back after taking the project over from the Lake Area United Way.
“Felix is the artist who deserves all the credit,” said SSCVA President/CEO, Spero Batistatos. “We wanted to have something that was different from what you’ll see other people doing. He brought his ideas and we brought our ideas, then we took them and sort of tweaked them, and we have what you see today.”
“We wanted to do something that was very symbolic of who we are as a people,” Batistatos said. “We wanted to address our people and our multi-culturalism through the bison instead of having a bunch of pictures of barns and bison.”
The bison make appearances across the state and in Indianapolis, with the rest of the herd, before it returns back to Northwest Indiana. Its permanent home will be at the Indiana Welcome Center.
Learn more about Indiana's Bicentennial and the South Shore's project at www.alongthesouthshore.com/ibc. Learn more about artist, "Flex" at www.felixmaldonado.com. The Indiana Welcome Center is located at 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, Ind.