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Joe's Bench Back at Square One Following Criticism

by on July 15, 2014 12:00 PM

Design plans for the project to honor Joe Paterno with a life size bronze statue are going back to the drawing board. Sculptor Zenos Frudakis released a statement saying he is revising the statue model after receiving widespread criticism from supporters of the project.

Initial plans for the statue -- released by the group "Joe's Bench" -- included Paterno seated on a bench, reading Vergil’s “Aeneid.” At a private unveiling last week, the clay model of the statue showed the former Penn State head football coach standing, not sitting.

“I felt the bench was a cliché, and Joe was not a cliché. Anyone can sit on a bench, there are many statues with people sitting on a bench, Joe was an active individual, and he was not a bench warmer,” Frudakis says in news release. “I wanted this piece to represent his 61 years of accomplishments, and to remind and re-educate people of who he was. It was an opportunity to restore the balance that he deserves.”

Many supporters of the project were not pleased by the design change. Project organizers were flooded with messages from Paterno supporters over the past few days, calling for the statue to be of the football coach seated as initially planned.

The group announced Monday the strong reaction caused organizers to reconsider design plans.

“Because this is a community-driven effort, and the bench concept continues to be incredibly popular, Zenos Frudakis is currently working on a revised model of Joe Paterno, and we will have that made public the minute the Joe’s Bench team receives it," according to a prepared statement.

Back in April, organizer Ted Sebastianelli estimated the statue will cost $300,000. It's unclear how much has been raised to date but organizers say the project received its largest number of daily donations on Friday since the beginning. It even received one donation of $25,000 from an anonymous donor. 

"When told last night of the change again, the reply from the anonymous match donor was, ‘It is for Joe. Zenos Frudakis was being commissioned to do this. I know his work. And I trust him implicitly,’ ” according to the news release.

Plans were for the statue to be completed in November 2015. This may be pushed back due to recent roadblocks, as Joe's Group organizers have said it could take months before a new design is fully developed.

To learn more about the project or to donate, click here.

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Jessica Tully recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and political science. She is a frequent contributor to StateCollege.com and has also reported for USA TODAY, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Onward State and The Daily Collegian.
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