Visual Arts » 2D

The Signature’s On The Baseline

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In 1977 the city of Milwaukee made a bold decision about a floor. The Milwaukee Bucks had finished a lackluster season with a 30-52 record. They'd already lost Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974. The previous year Indianapolis' own Oscar Robertson closed out his career with the team. Perhaps looking for a brighter future for its team, Milwaukee hired Robert Indiana to design the MECCA arena's court floor, and the cost - $27,500 - was a bit controversial.

City resident E. R. Schwalbach suggested in a letter to the Milwaukee Sentinel, "For this money, we should have something akin to the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel..." and that the colors of the floor "should be 24 carat for this money."

The floor of the MECCA arena was bright, bold and graphic - and its baseline was signed by the artist, Robert Indiana. - COURTESY OF ANDREW GORZALSKI
  • Courtesy of Andrew Gorzalski
  • The floor of the MECCA arena was bright, bold and graphic - and its baseline was signed by the artist, Robert Indiana.

But perhaps the bright blue and gold paint and the highly graphic design were harbingers of better luck. The team went on to appear in 13 of the next 14 playoff series. And Robert Indiana's work, including his own signature on the floor's baseline, came to represent happy times. So happy that Andrew Gorzalski, a guy who grew up watching Bucks games, decided to rescue the painted wood surface when it popped up on an online salvage site as "gym floor."

You can read about the floor, about the time last fall that Gorzalski and his financial partner put it on display in Milwaukee, and about their future plans in FastCoCreate's story.

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