Mayor Hudnut Sculpture

From the Office of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard
Indianapolis – November 15, 2014

With finishing touches now being applied to a larger-than-life statue of former Indianapolis Mayor William H. Hudnut III, contributions are now being accepted to provide a perpetual maintenance fund for the bronze, seated likeness of the former Mayor that will soon overlook one of the city’s busiest corners.

The statue, to be named “Mayor Bill,” will be owned by the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board of Managers, which maintains the Hudnut Commons greenspace and underground parking garage on the northwest corner of Maryland Street and Capitol Avenue. A public dedication ceremony for the new statue is planned for 10:30AM on Sunday, December 14, at Hudnut Commons.

“So much of what we take for granted today in Indianapolis grew from the seeds planted during the Hudnut years,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “Our success as a sports center and convention city, and our reputation for hospitality and a clean downtown can each be attributed to Bill Hudnut’s years of service.” Mayor Ballard first announced the creation of Hudnut Commons in early 2013, with the hope that sufficient funds could be raised to place a bronze likeness of the former Mayor on the site. More than $250,000 in private contributions funded the seated bronze statue of the former Mayor. Contributions are still being accepted for the project, and those wanting to contribute can send a check to: Hudnut Commons Project, c/o Downtown Indy, 111 Monument Circle, Suite 1900, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46204.

16 Years as Mayor

A Princeton University and Union Theological Seminar graduate, former Senior Pastor for the Second Presbyterian Church, and Congressman representing Indianapolis, Hudnut is also the longest serving Mayor of Indianapolis. After winning his first Mayoral bid in 1975, Hudnut was sworn in January 1, 1976 and was re-elected three times. During his 16 years as the City’s chief executive, dozens of major building projects were completed downtown, including the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center located across the street from Hudnut Commons. During the Hudnut years, more than $4 billion was committed to downtown Indianapolis redevelopment. The unveiling of Hudnut’s likeness in downtown Indy comes on a Sunday just before an Indianapolis Colts game, fitting for the Mayor who helped to attract the team to the city. During Hudnut’s time as Mayor, Indianapolis hosted the 1987 Pan Am Games, created the Indiana Sports Corporation, and made major investments to burnish the city’s image as an amateur sports capital.

After leaving office in Indianapolis, Hudnut relocated to the Washington, D.C. area. He later was elected to the City Council of Chevy Chase, Maryland and also served as that town’s mayor. Hudnut has written five books on leadership and urban planning. He is Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Washington-based Urban Land Institute and today is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University and Executive Director of the Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies – Real Estate.

Lifelike Sculptors

Ratio Architects Principal William A. Browne led the effort to select the most appropriate sculptor for the project. “We first decided that it would be important to select an artist and determined that the best means of accomplishing this would be to engage with the Arts Council of Indianapolis,” explains Brown. An Arts Council jury selected Koh- Varilla Guild of Chicago and artists Jeff Varilla and Ana Koh Varilla from about two dozen submissions to create the Hudnut statue. “Their selection was based on their prior experience of completing projects in the public realm, their ability to complete a lifelike likeness of an individual, and their ability to handle texture and fabric in a very realistic manner. The piece that really caught the attention of the jury was a bas relief sculpture completed for Soldier Field in Chicago,” said Browne.

The sculptors met with Mayor Bill in their Chicago studio to measure him so that the proportions would be as accurate as possible, as well as complete some additional photography. Hudnut decided that he preferred to be depicted sitting on a bench rather than standing, to communicate his connection to his constituents rather than being seen as a politician or statesman as represented by many sculptures of politicans.

Koh-Varilla Guild has created monuments now placed throughout the U.S., South Korea, and England. In addition to the Soldier Field sculpture, the couple has also completed works now in the collection of the Vatican and commemorating such diverse subjects as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and golfer Jack Nicklaus. The Hudnut bronze was cast in a New Mexico foundry earlier this fall and work is now underway to finish the granite display pedestal and complete finish work on the bronze tribute to “Mayor Bill” that will soon welcome visitors at Hudnut Commons.