First Indiana "official artist" for the 500

Walter Knabe gets the honor

May 12, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis-based Walter Knabe has been named the official artist of this year's Indianapolis 500. Past Indy 500 artists include Peter Max and LeRoy Neiman. Knabe is the first Hoosier to land the gig.

Knabe, who has worked with Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, has been a staple on the Indianapolis art scene for the past 15 years. His work is featured in the private collections of Neil Simon, Spike Lee, Bill Cosby, Madonna, Michael Jordan and Caroline Kennedy and has been publicly presented at Trump Plaza, the Paris Casino in Las Vegas, Walt Disney World and the White House.

I haven't seen the 500 work yet (it will be revealed this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), but I'll safely say that whatever Knabe creates will be a marked improvement over that of 2009's Thomas Kinkade.

Find an IBJ review of a recent Knabe show here.

Your thoughts?

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Not so fast...
    Ron Burton, a long time Speedway fixture and well known Hoosier auto racing artist painted for IMS since the late '60s/early '70s. He's done a few 500 program covers and his work was exhibited at the IMS Museum for several years.
    • Named the Official Artist of the Race
      Yes, while that may be true for Ron Burton, Walter Knabe is the FIRST Indiana-based artist to be NAMED The Official Artist of the Indianapolis 500. There is a different distinction for artists of the race and those given the "official title".
    • What about Todd Reifers
      Todd Reifers was not just based in Indianapolis, he was born here. I forget which year and could not find it on a search, but he did the program artwork once.
      • Todd Reifers
        The year was 1987.
      • Not the first...
        Although I am not the first Indiana artist to do the cover, I did do the 1987 cover for the Speedway and as posted above Ron Burton has doe a few also. Please correct your information and do some research before you post.
        Todd Reifers
        Indianapolis IN
      • First Indiana 500 cover artist
        Okay, here's the straight scoop on the cover artists for the Indianapolis 500 Official Program since 1982.
        I was the art director for the Speedway from 1982 until 2001 as a contract supplier. Along with former IMS VP, Bill Donaldson we decided who was to be the cover artist. The first year that I designed the program, 1982, the cover was a photograph montage assembled by me and shot by Indianapolis photographer, Bill Tobias. The second year of my tenure, 1983 we used San Francisco artist, David Grove. In 1984 Indianpolis Sculptor, Roger White created the cover piece. By this time we had begun using international know artists and Indiana artists in alternate years but foreseeing 1986 being the 75th anniversary year and a year that we would want an internationally know artist we used Indiana artist, Ron Burton for 1985. As stated before, in 1986 we used the the late internationally known Bernie Fuchs for the cover which was our first gate fold cover. In 1987 the renown Indiana artist, Todd Reifers produce the art and in 1988, the late internationally known artist Bob Peak produced the cover art. In 1989 Seattle Illustrator, Jim Dietz, did the cover art and in 1990 another Indiana artist, glass sculptor, Stuart Gaunt, created the artwork. In 1991, Bernie Fuchs' art was again on the cover and this artwork received the Gold Medal for that year's Society of Illustrators Annual Awards. In 1992 no less than 6 national and international artists were used for the artwork, all on one cover, with Indiana artist Dave Taylor being one of those illustrators. By 1993 onward until the end of my tenure, by the decision of the management, all the artists were to be of international status. In 1994 it was Ken Dallison, 1995 David Grove, 1996 Jim Dietz, 1997 Philip Castle, 1998 poster artist, Dennis Simon, 1999 Bart Forbes, 2000 David Grove, and in 2001 it was a lenticular, 3D motion cover which I assembled, so at the end of my involvement was about where it started.
        I don't know all the designers and artists following the end of my tenure but I do know that gifted Indiana artist, Greg Beall did do the 2006 cover.

        I hope this somewhat clears up the debate.
        • Poster Artwork by Hoosiers
          Several years ago, there was a long-standing partnership between the IMS and Herron
          School of Art that resulted in a poster competition. Under the guidance of Illustrator & Instructor Kathleen O'Connell, students would create posters showing various aspects of the race. The winning poster would be reproduced and given away or sold to the public. The posters were strong examples of the excellent work done by Herron students and a huge HIT with the public! To my knowledge, this competition is no longer - its a shame. Thanks Lou
        • "official"
          Thanks for the information. To clarify, I never said that Indiana artists had never been associated with teh 500, done work for the 500, or had their work featured on the program cover or poster.

          According to IMS, "Knabe is the first Indiana-based artist to be named the Official Artist of the Indianapolis 500."

          If that is incorrect, please let me--and IMS--know.

          Thanks for reading.

          Lou Harry
          • source
            Here's a link to the IMS info on Knabe: http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/indy500/news/show/37338-2010-indy-500-program-offers-great-information-value-for-fans/
          • Now it's "Official"
            What took IMS a long time is to annoint the artist creating the art or graphic with the honorific "Official". Prior to the Official Artist of the Centennial Era Thomas Kinkade (gag me), I find no prior use of the word Official for any year's artisit or graphic designer. Do you? So no one ever held that title before that I can find.
          • Official Artist is different than cover design
            The Indianapolis 500 has not always had the designation of "Official Artist of the Indianapolis 500". Certainly there were artists from Indiana that designed the cover. The Official Artist designation has been a newer thing (over the last decade or so) with artists like Peter Max, LeRoy Neimann, Knabe etc. The artists with this new designation do more than design the cover. This is not a negative comment about our fellow Hoosiers who have designed the covers. However, the official artist, here, created a separate painting, is doing work for the Indy 500 Jewels and Jeans Charity, and much more. There is a lot more to it these days than in years past. The Motor Speedway does not hire or ask an artist to do the cover anymore. It is a more expansive position now. The author's facts are correct.
            • print makes it "OFFICIAL"
              It is my belief that "Official" means it is endorsed by and approved by the IMS and when it goes to press...IT IS OFFICIAL! Nuf said.
            • "Official"
              During the eighties and nineties the cover art was used, in addition to the OFFICIAL Indianpolis 500 Program, the OFFICIAL Indianapolis 500 Poster, the OFFICIAL Indianapolis 500 Media Fact Book, plus on a few occasions, other OFFICIAL Indianapolis 500 material. I sort of agree with Todd, if an artwork is used on all those OFFICIAL publications I think it has to be considered OFFICIAL. For the Public Relations department of the IMS to state Mr. Knabe as the first OFFICIAL Indiana artist sounds to me like a minor blunder considering the Hoosiers who were so honored, if not OFFICIALLY, before. If this is incorrect, the multitude of attorneys chasing copyright infringements for IMS should probably ignore 'unauthorized' reproductions of the cover art. But dimes to donuts they would never do that.
            • Master Artist
              Dear John, thomas Kinkade's master artwork
              of the 100th running is wonderful and even
              features Leroy Neimann sitting next to
              Norman Rockwell and others. Can you find
              Dale Earnhart in the crowd? Check for yourself
              www.thomaskinkade.com
              Why do a few think it is "cool" to put this
              amazing American artist down? I don't read
              any reason for it in the article. God bless!
            • Stuart Gaunt
              Does anyone know where Stu Gaunt might be.
              Stu did a glass etching of my bird dog about 16-17 years ago. Lost contact over the years and would like to get a hold of him.

              Thanks for the help

            Post a comment to this blog

            COMMENTS POLICY
            We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
             
            You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
             
            Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
             
            No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
             
            We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
             

            Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

            Sponsored by
            ADVERTISEMENT
            1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

            2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

            3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

            4. Exciting times in Carmel.

            5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

            ADVERTISEMENT