Robert Indiana: In Miami, Selling MECCA

The works of Robert Indiana, and many other great mid-twentieth century artists, will be on display at the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum from September 28th through December 17th.


Included in the exhibit are dozens of prints from the Smithsonian's permanent collection. In addition to Indiana's work, there are prints by Andy WarholRoy LichtensteinJasper JohnsRobert RauschenbergClaes OldenburgMel RamosJim Dine and Tom Wesselman, a roster of great artists whose work is for sale at VFA.


Selling MECCA

This year, the Milwaukee Bucks are celebrating their 50th season in the NBA. As part of the celebration, the team will play one game, against the Celtics, in the old MECCA stadium.


The MECCA (The Milwaukee Exposition, Convention Center and Arena) was the original home of the Bucks from 1968 through 1988. In 1977, Robert Indiana was commissioned to paint the MECCA floor. The Bucks will not be playing on Indiana's iconic floor, which was removed during renovations in the 1980s.



There was a lot of controversy surrounding the choice of Indiana for the job and for his insistence that the design be kept secret until opening game night. The controversy ended after the floor was unveiled. Fans loved it. Indiana's design got world-wide television and press overage, and what was the world's largest pop art painting became an iconic work of art.


The Bucks played in MECCA from 1970 through 1988, during which time they made the playoffs 18 times, went to seven Conference Finals and won an incredible number of games. The MECCA was a relatively small venue, and the larger Bradley Center was built across the street in 1988. When the MECCA was redone, the floor removed and sold to an architectural salvage company.


In 2010, Bucks fan, Andy Gorzalski got an email from a friend, with an ad that read, "Reclaimed Gym Floor in Panels." The floor was being sold as a whole or in pieces. Gorzalski, a young father of two with a new job, maxed out his credit cards and bought the floor. His goal was to find a buyer who would find a permanent home for the floor in Milwaukee.


Greg Koller, the owner of a struggling company called Pro Start, that installed gym floors, got a call telling him that the floor was for sale. Also a Bucks fan, who wanted the floor to stay in Milwaukee, he bought the floor. Sadly, Koller died of a massive heart attack a week after buying the floor.


The MECCA Floor Saga Continues…

Koller's son, Ben, teamed up with Andy Gorzalski to try to find a home for the floor. Together, they reassembled the floor in the MECCA arena for a single night's tribute. In 2013, the pieces of the floor were reassembled to create the MECCA Sculpture, which was unveiled at Milwaukee's City Hall.


After many attempts to connect, Ben Koller finally got to visit Robert Indiana in his studio and hear, first hand, the history of the floor. Ben Koller still owns the floor, and is still trying to find a buyer who will keep the floor intact, in Milwaukee.


Robert Indiana at VFA

Robert Indiana's work has always been about bringing people together. International HOPE Day, September 13th, Indiana's birthday, was created to help fulfill his desire to cover the world with HOPE.


Please contact us for more information about HOPE or any of the other iconic works for sale at VFA.

September 7, 2017
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