Event offers look at JoePa statue

Visitors to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts this weekend will get a first look at a community-driven new statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, according to a release put out Thursday.

The statue, called “Joe’s Bench,” originally was planned to feature the former coach sitting on a bench reading “Aeneid” by Virgil, an epic poem that was a favorite of Paterno’s. Philadelphia-based sculptor Zenos Frudakis is designing the statue, according to the release, and he decided to take the project in a different direction. The design was first debuted Thursday to a small-crowd of supporters, according to the release.

The statue’s new design, according to the release, will feature Paterno walking down the sidelines of a football field.

Ted Sebastianelli, a former Board of Trustees candidate and one of the leaders on the project, said in the release that Arts Festival was not initially planned for the design’s release, but he felt it was time to showcase the artist’s work.

“The bench concept has been out there for a while, and once Zenos started going in a new direction, and we had a chance to see the design, we just felt it was important we share his vision, and his amazing talent, with everyone that wants to help,” Sebastianelli said in the release.

The project is currently gathering support on www.indiegogo.com, a fundraising website. The campaign will also help organizers fund an hour-long documentary called “The People’s Joe” to coincide with the statue, according to the release. About $23,500 had been raised of the listed $250,000 goal, according to the campaign page, as of press time Thursday.

According to the project’s website, there have been discussions since 2012 for ways for the community to put together a statue honoring Paterno. That year, the original statue of the former coach, located near Beaver Stadium, was removed by Penn State administrators in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

“We have been working on getting to this point for over two years,” said Kimberly Intorre, another organizer, in the release. “There’s still a lot of money to be raised and decisions to be made, but to see Zenos’ passion for this project, and the design he has come up with, is really just a shot in the arm.”

No official location for the statue has been revealed, but discussions have pointed to the Centennial Walkway in downtown State College, near The Tavern restaurant, as a possible future space.