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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bleacher Art Not Just A Guy Thing Joe Fan Statue Slights Women, Kids, Say Officials

Joe Fan is a man, and at least two Spokane City Council members think that’s a bad plan.

Joe, they say, needs a Joanne.

Mayor Jack Geraghty and Councilwoman Roberta Greene took offense at a proposal to put a bronze statue of a man, titled Joe Fan, in the end-zone bleachers of Joe Albi Stadium.

“It either ought to be a man and a woman or kids or something,” said Geraghty after learning of the proposal during Monday’s weekly briefing. “It seems like we’re going back in time here.

“It’s an issue that we should be sensitive to, quite frankly.”

Greene echoed Geraghty, saying “it’s not just men” who cheer on sports teams at Albi.

The stadium recently underwent a $1.6 million facelift, complete with new turf and a wider playing field. By state law, 1 percent of all money spent on city capital projects must go to art.

Enter Joe Fan.

In a written description of his work, sculptor Vincent De Felice said Joe would sit on a cushioned seat, wear field glasses around his neck and have a thermos just inches away.

Joe, De Felice wrote, represents the “essence of sports, an individual who supports the games. He may be a father, a businessman, a factory worker. … Joe emits the love he has for the game and symbolizes the spirit of the sport.”

Members of a committee chosen by the city’s Arts Commission selected De Felice’s “art concept” for Albi from eight submissions. They liked the idea of an interactive sculpture that students could dress in school colors and “rally around,” said Mike Kobluk, entertainment facilities director.

The Spokane Sports, Entertainment, Arts and Convention Advisory Board later approved the plan and sent it on to the council for approval.

Never once did anyone on the unisex boards mention Joe’s maleness, said Kobluk.

“The reason why it’s not more than one figure is simply budget,” De Felice said Tuesday, adding he stands to make zip on the statue.

The city’s paying $15,000 for the work, with $11,000 going to the foundry that would cast the statue. The balance would go to materials and transportation, De Felice said. “I’m doing it simply as an investment.”

The artist said he chose a man because of the stadium’s namesake, Joe Albi, a Spokane lawyer who spearheaded construction of the sports complex.

“I pretty much got to go with the guy,” De Felice said.

Kobluk’s suggestion to the council during the briefing that Joe Fan be modified to resemble Joe Albi seemed to appease Geraghty and Greene.

That would be an improvement, Geraghty said.

The council will vote on the contract with De Felice next week.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Drawing

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