“Welcome to Chicago, city of The Runners”… is the title of a Chicago Tribune Article, dedicated to “The Runners” sculpture by Professor of Polytechnics University, Theodoros Papagiannis.
The initiative belongs to the Chicago – Athens Sister City Committee, in collaboration with the City of Chicago, Gateway Green Organization, as a result of 6 year efforts and thanks to the generosity of six Diaspora Greeks and the subsequent contributions by other sponsors. The cost of the sculpture was a total of $650.000, while efforts are being made to raise an additional amount of $120.000 to cover the installation expenses of the sculpture in O’ Hare International Airport.
Towards this end, the Chicago – Athens Sister City Committee has scheduled a fundraising event on Friday, 29th of April 2011, at Rosewood Restaurant. The event is chaired by Greek – American journalist, Sotiris Rekoumis, who expressed his hope that the “Greek monument will remind travellers, passing through the O’ Hare international airport gates and future generations, the universality of the Olympic Spirit”. The names of the donors will be featured in a designated commemorative column.
The 18 foot tall x 75 foot long steel Runners sculpture, represents the 5 continents of our planet and the strong bond between the two Sister Cities; “Chicago welcomed a large number of immigrants since the 18th century and was a hospitable place for Hellenism”, states SAE U.S.A. Region Coordinator, Mr. T. G. Spyropoulos, member of the Chicago – Athens Sister City Committee. “Initially we selected Athens as the main theme and subsequently incorporated additional Ancient Hellenism themes. The three competent City Committees rejected the 150 total classical style submitted designs, requesting a modern sculpture. And so we concluded to a blend of classic Marathon Runners theme with a modern outlook. We are pleased and proud of this result.”
The inauguration of the sculpture is expected to take place on May 2nd 2011 by the Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley.
“The Runners” sculpture is a piece of world class art, conveying a timeless friendship and partnership message. “The Runners”, similar to ancient Greek pottery figures, move through time, emerging from the ancient times to meet the present. As the sculptor of the artwork states to the Chicago Tribune “The Runners is a symbol of emigration, moving — the Greek people in America,“… “Also, it’s (about) marathon runners, who bring a message. The message is peace, collaboration, friendship between two cities, two countries. It’s very important, this message.”, stated the sculptor to Chicago Tribune. Papagiannis also emphasized the sculpture’s representation of pre-Socrates philosopher Heraclitus, who said, “Everything flows.”
“Gateway Green offered the opportunity to us,” Athens committee chairman and CEO of Deco Construction, the company responsible for the installations of “The Runners”, Demetrios Kozonis stated to the Chicago Tribune. “Without knowing how difficult it is, we said yes,” Kozonis said, and all three men laughed. “In order to install in a public area, it’s very difficult.”
It is important to note that over 300 million travelers walk through the International O’ Hare Airport gates on an annual basis.
Source: ANA – MPA