You could call George Sabra a Super sculptor. For the second straight year, Sabra, the respected artist who's been creating environmentally inspired works for more than 20 years, has crafted six sculptures representing NFL teams. Three were on display at the Super Bowl venue in Tampa last year and three more were seen in Miami Beach last week.
"I am very inspired by the shape of the football," said Sabra, who came from Syria five years ago and has settled in the culturally conscious college town of Austin, Texas. "I remember seeing the football on TV, standing in the air magnificently, like a planet moving. And all across the country during the Super Bowl, people watch the football moving across the screen, from the left to the right, the right to the left. It's a magnetic effect."
One of the three teams that attracted him to capture their essences this year was the New York Jets. You can see some different views of his Jets sculpture in the slideshow accompanying this Radar entry.
Why the Jets?
"I picked them simply because of how I imagined the sculpture," Sabra replied. "i imagine it as the Jets are flying, and so, too, the football is flying."
There's a hook to Sabra's work — he deals exclusively with all types of recycled material. That was exactly what was required of the multiple artists who contributed to the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Art Exhibit on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach: to create artworks out of recycled materials from demolished football stadiums.
So Sabra put his pedal to the metal. For the Jets piece, he used welded wire to create that pointed prolate spheroid (football) shape that fascinates him so. And for the rising aircraft, he fashioned steel from Miami's now departed Orange Bowl.
I asked Sabra if he knew that the biggest triumph in the Jets' 50-year history, in Super Bowl III, took place in the Orange Bowl.
"Of course," he said.
Sabra's team sculptures measure 3' tall by 2' wide by 2' deep. But he broke out of that mold by recycling another nearby material — the sand from the nearby beach — to sculpt a football that measured 4' high by 20' wide by 10' deep, decorated with a large granular fleur-de-lis.
"People came by and were reacting to the football sculpture, and most of them were from New Orleans," he said. "Maybe we got this energy from the people. It was a beautiful energy."
As for working in sand, Sabra said, "That was the first time I did that."
The Jets just missed making it down to South Florida, but some fans of the Green & White were drawn to his green art. Sabra noted their enthusiasm as well, and he's eager do something even more grandly Jets-oriented should they make it to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas a year from now.
"We're working with the city of Irving to get an agreement to make a sculpture from the old Texas Stadium," Sabra said. "Maybe we can make create some good art for next year in Dallas."
And he is intrigued by the possibility of visiting North Jersey soon to find someuseful flotsam and jetsam from the old stadium now being demolished to make way for the New Meadowlands Stadium that will be open for football business in August.
"I would love to do that, make another sculpture about the Jets," he said, "and bring it to Dallas."
Check out Sabra's Website to learn more about him and see some of his other celebrated works, and his Super Bowl sculptures site to see all of his SBXLIV work and a video showing the Jets sculpture in the round.
More Characters Now Welcome
Some of you friends of the Radar may have noticed a change in the comment area, some of you just sensed you were getting fatigued writing your usual comments. We've increased the amount of allowable messages by 25 percent, from 400 to 500 characters per comment.
That may not seem like a lot, but we know some of you have asked for more comment space. We'd like to throw it wide open but we don't have the people power to process uncountable comments with unlimited content. While we don't discourage you from sending us one long comment spread over two or three submissions, we also want to encourage you to sum up your thoughts in the allotted space.
And now that space is a little larger than it was before.