“Big Ricky” Comes to The Stark Center and Other New Artifacts

“Big Ricky” Comes to The Stark Center and Other New Artifacts

Last month, The Stark Center opened a new exhibit featuring sculptures by David Deming and Michael Deming. It’s called Degrees of Fitness / Sporting Bodies; if this is the first you’ve heard about it, click the title for more detailed information about the exhibit. I highly encourage everyone to make a trip to The Stark Center to see the Deming sculpture show – it’s a terrific showcase of sculpted works that delves into the world of physical culture with fresh focus and presentation. I’m quite proud of the exhibit and the way it offers something new to our galleries. I’m also grateful to David and Michael, who have been especially generous with their time and talents. Though I haven’t known the Demings as long as Jan and Terry Todd have, David and Mike already feel like old friends to me. As Ohioans, they are both sterling examples of that old Midwestern kindness.

Last week, David and Michael returned to The Stark Center, this time towing a twelve-foot-long trailer. Their haul for this Southern voyage: an eight-foot-tall plaster cast version of the Ricky Williams bronze, which David originally made for the University of Texas Athletics. “Big Ricky” as we’ve started calling him, is now a wonderful artifact on display in the Coaching Greatness exhibit about the careers of Longhorn football coaches Darrell Royal and Mack Brown.

Delivering “Big Ricky” into our space would not have been possible without the help of Tuffy Morzenti, who is the manager of central receiving for UT Athletics and a great friend to The Stark Center. Tuffy operated a forklift to lift “Big Ricky” out of the Demings’ trailer, then carried him up the ramps to The Stark Center. David and Michael had constructed a wooden platform that made the use of a forklift in maneuvering the statue a fairly easy task. Once outside The Stark Center, we stood Big Ricky upright onto a circular base with industrial sized wheels. To do so required quite a bit of muscling and shifting to ensure that the plaster cast was precisely placed in a safe position to then roll into the galleries and, finally, to his spot in the Coaching Greatness exhibit. “Big Ricky” is a terrific addition to the exhibit and he really captures the attention of onlookers.

Aside from the arrival of “Big Ricky,” I’ve also moved glass table cases into other galleries to add different artifacts to existing exhibits. In our lobby, visitors can now take a closer look at Ben Crenshaw’s 1984 Masters Tournament Trophy along with one of the many scrapbooks from Tom Kite’s collection. They share the case with the small notebook in which Harvey Penick hand-wrote the observations and thoughts that eventually became The Little Red Golf Book. Strongwoman Minerva’s Loving Cup and Championship Belt (awarded to her by Richard K. Fox) are presented in the Strong Men, Strong Women exhibit alongside Milo Barbell Company’s first mass-manufactured dumbbell, which is loaded with lead shot to create an adjustable weight. The Golden Age of American Boxing exhibit now features the trunks and singlet of former heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries. That case also includes period-relevant boxing gloves and three issues of The Ring magazine, the “Bible of Boxing.” And, in the Coaching Greatness exhibit with Big Ricky, is a new presentation of artifacts from Mack Brown’s collection—including formal gifts and personal correspondence that shows the impact Coach Brown had on the lives of individual players, family, and friends.

The Stark Center has fully re-opened and we are welcoming all visitors back into our gallery spaces. I hope you will find time to visit, whether it’s your first time to our space or a return to see new exhibits and artifacts on display. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday, and there is no charge for admission.

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