Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Celadon Group contest for college students offers $5,000, 53-foot 'canvas' for top prize

Indianapolis-based long-haul trucking company Celadon Group travels millions of miles a year on all kinds of highways in plenty of ugly conditions, but one semitrailer this year will be a real work of art.

This week, company founder and Chairman Stephen Russell will announce a scholarship competition among college students to create an artwork or picture to be enlarged and displayed on the side of a 53-foot-long semitrailer. The top prize will be $5,000.

The project commemorates company landmarks this year, but it also fits with Russell's passion for promoting, collecting and endowing the arts. He is chairman of the board of the Indianapolis Museum of Art this year.

A look around his company's Eastside headquarters -- where various paintings, photos and large metal sculptures are displayed -- shows why Russell believes there is both beauty and practical value in encouraging art and artists.

"Art is an investment. But art also sets a tone within the company and in the culture of the community."

His office is decorated with antiques. Works by Andy Warhol and others are on the walls of the company that runs one of the largest trucking fleets in the nation.

The latest of Russell's projects promoting art -- dubbed "Art for the Long Haul" -- will create a unique picture, photo or painting to be displayed on the sides of a semitrailer marking the company's 25th anniversary.

The rolling artwork's first appearance is to be in New York in late April, when Russell and others from Celadon will ring the opening daily bell on the New York Stock Exchange. Celadon is traded on Wall Street under the symbol CGI.

A few days later, the customized artwork will roll back to Indianapolis for a May 1 birthday party in Lucas Oil Stadium for the company's 4,000 employees. About 700 are in Indiana.

This spring, Celadon is inviting students at hundreds of colleges and art schools in seven regions of the US, Canada and Mexico, the countries covered by Celadon's operations, to create the anniversary design.

Russell and Celadon's Thomas Burck said a committee headed by IMA Chief Executive Maxwell Anderson will narrow the submitted artworks to seven finalists.

The winning art will be applied to the sides of a trailer in the Plainfield shops of TKO Graphix. The piece may be incorporated in other company promotions.

The winning artist will receive $5,000; the other six finalists will get $500 each.

Russell said the idea of the art competition was sparked by George Sechrist, president of Indianapolis-based BMG event-planning, media and promotions firm. "Celadon has a history of embracing art, so I thought a competition would bring attention to both the company and to the arts," Sechrist said. "We're contacting colleges and art schools to see if they want to join the competition. We're also spreading the offer through national scholarship search companies."

Art students should contact their school's financial aid office for information about the competition. Deadline for submissions will be March 15.

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