Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

Local artwork 'centerpiece' for national TV network

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By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post

Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year in America, the Super Bowl, and while many people spend the weeks leading up to the big game planning parties, Lebanon resident Rick Wittrig spent that time tirelessly crafting centerpieces for sports network ESPNs own Super Bowl gathering.

Wittrig is the owner and chief craftsman for Fire Pit Art and spends his time creating incredible fire pits and metal sculptures at his home in Lebanon. The opportunity to create something for ESPN sprang up in Atlanta.

We attended a wholesale tradeshow a few weeks ago and we were very well received, Wittrig said.

Wittrig said representatives of ESPN saw his work and approached him about creating something for their party in Indianapolis, Ind., for Super Bowl XLVI. Wittrig is no stranger to these high-profile jobs. In 2010, the Vancouver Olympics Committee asked him to create fire pits for Whistler Olympic Village. He also said hes done work for Dollywood in the past.

While he spends his days creating fire pits such as the one for the Vancouver Olympics, a steel sculpture of the globe where flames could reach out through the worlds oceans, ESPN wanted something less flammable.

They wanted to know if we were capable of doing sculptures. I accepted the challenge and went to work, he said.

Wittrig worked closely with ESPN, collaborating on a design with a team of individuals responsible for putting together the high-profile Super Bowl party. He said the party had a football and industrial theme, so his metalwork would be a key component to the decorations.

The sculptures are made from 18-guage stainless steel and are laser etched, he explained.

Wittrig worked 10- to 12-hour days this past week to finish the 40 sculptures that are to be on display in the center of tables at ESPNs Super Bowl bash. Thursday morning, the sculptures shipped out to Indianapolis.

While ESPN didnt elaborate on where the sculptures would be placed, Donna, Wittrigs wife, said they hope to see one during the networks live coverage of the game before or after the kickoff.

Its been fun and absolutely grueling, he said.

Wittrig said the sculptures were shipped to the Arts Garden in Indianapolis, which sits just a few blocks away from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the New York Giants and New England Patriots will line up for the Super Bowl.

Im unclear if the party is before, during, or after the game, or all of the above, Wittrig laughed.

When asked where they plan to watch the big game, Mrs. Wittrig said her husband asked her the same question Thursday morning, their first chance to take a breather and think about enjoying the game on Sunday.

I believe we will curl up on the couch and enjoy the game together as a family, she said. Unless, of course, we get an invitation to attend the ESPN Super Bowl Party, then off to Indianapolis we will go!

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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