Campaign Selling Paterno Statue Figurines Made By Original Sculptor
If you spent any time outside of Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon ahead of the Nittany Lions’ primetime matchup with Ohio State, you likely noticed an eye-catching banner soaring through the State College skies. Distinct Collectibles, a figurine retailer, funded a plane that was trailed by four words: “Bring The Statue Home.”
The company has a trio of co-owners in Jim Miller, Thomas Heck, and Penn State alumnus Mike Flanagan. As of now, Distinct Collectibles is selling just one product: a bronze figurine replication of the Joe Paterno Statue hand-crafted by Angelo Di Maria, the Sicily-born and Reading-raised man who designed the original statue.
The company is trying to boost support with its Bring The Statue Home campaign, which is of course asking for the return of Di Maria’s Paterno sculpture to its resting spot outside the stadium.
“We are so very pleased to honor Joe Paterno’s legacy and to provide a unique way for other admirers to remember and honor his commitment and generosity of spirit with this beautiful work of art,” Flanagan said.
That’s all good and well until you take a look at Di Maria’s thoughts on the statue’s removal back in 2012. Despite being the designer of the famous piece of art, Di Maria denounced his work entirely after it was taken down. In fact, he told The Washington Times that the statue is “nothing more than 900 pounds of dead metal” to him and that its removal “had to be done.”
Di Maria was no Paterno sympathizer, either. After the scandal took its course, the sculptor said that Paterno “made a mistake and a very big mistake” and that he understood the university’s decision to take down his statue.
The artist is proudly featured on the Distinct Collectibles website on his own “About The Artist” page. In a press release, the company boasted that each of the $590 figurines are hand-crafted and casted in bronze resin by Di Maria himself.
But when asked about Di Maria’s role at Distinct Collectibles, company media contact Camille Dager was quick to distance the retailer from the artist.
“Angelo Di Maria is not an owner and has no role within the company,” she said. “He is the artist who sculpted the iconic statue of Joe Paterno that stood at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium and which is now being reproduced by Distinct Collectibles.”
When the Paterno statue was removed in 2012, Di Maria said that a part of him is in the art, but that he is “willing to go along with the just or fair decision.”
While there’s nothing wrong with selling expensive Paterno figurines or his opinion on the removal, it’s simply interesting to note that the company is branding its work as a line of products that “pay tribute to individuals whose commitment and generosity of spirit enriched the lives of those around them” and getting the word out with a plane asking for the statue back.
That very same work is hand-made by a man who was all for taking down the statue and hasn’t yet publicly reversed course on that sentiment.