‘Welcome Race Fans’ Indy 500 art prints available for purchase

This year’s Indianapolis 500 will be held without fans, but that doesn’t mean all traditions are abandoned for the race’s 104th running.

In a custom that began 60 years ago, the winning driver is expected to be draped in a wreath in Victory Lane. And for the fifth year in a row, the Indianapolis Arts Council has commissioned original “Welcome Race Fans” signs from Hoosier artists.

Sharon Jiskra Brooks depicted the moment of the winner’s crown in her 2019 ‘Welcome Race Fans’ painting – an elegant, shimmering image accented with silver foil to imply the nearby presence of the Borg-Warner Trophy.

“I love this whole celebration,” said Jiskra Brooks, who grew up in Chicago and started a personal tradition of attending the Indy 500 in 1987.

Limited-edition prints of Jiskra Brooks’ painting and other ‘Welcome Race Fans’ signs are available for purchase this month to raise funds for artists who have lost earning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic .

More than 40 different “Welcome Race Fans” prints, $150 each, plus posters featuring five 2020 panels, $10 each or $25 for the entire series, will be available through August at shop.ims.com.

The Arts Council project elevates the phrase “Welcome Race Fans,” commonly slapped on banners advertising beer, to fine art. Hoosier hospitality and Indy 500 pride intersect in multimedia pieces that range from nostalgic to futuristic, understated to colorful and whimsical to dignified.

In 2016, when the “Welcome Race Fans” project debuted to coincide with the 100th running of the Indy 500, artist Todd Bracik made a sign made entirely of salvaged car parts.

One of this year’s signs, an ink and watercolor piece by Jingo de la Rosa, captures the unique circumstances of the August 23 race. Titled “Signs of the Times,” de la Rosa’s artwork shows four racing fans gathered for a party on the porch while wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of germs.

In addition to de la Rosa, the 2020 class of “Welcome Race Fans” artists includes Josh Betsey, Joy Hernandez, Becky Hochhalter and Martin Kuntz.

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“Welcome Race Fans” artists participating in the fundraiser will receive a flat licensing fee and 10% of print sales after printing and shipping costs. The rest of the proceeds will go to the Indy Arts & Culture COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which awarded $500 grants to 950 arts and culture workers this spring.

For more information on donating to the fund or applying for a grant, visit indykeepscreating.org.

Ball State University alum Jiskra Brooks said art buyers have been helpful during the pandemic, but she said cancellations of the Penrod Arts Fair and other events were affecting her ability to earn revenue. money this year.

Thinking back to her “Winner’s Wreath” painting, Jiskra Brooks said she visited wreath maker Julie Vance at her Yorktown florist, Buck Creek in Bloom, to learn more about the iconic laurel.

The wreath features 33 orchids, 33 miniature checkered flags, red, white and blue ribbons and wooden letters that spell “Borg Warner”.

Automotive transmission maker BorgWarner purchased Jiskra Brooks’ original painting, which is on display at the company’s offices in Noblesville.

“It kind of came full circle for me,” she said, “to have him where he’s supposed to be.”

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Contact IndyStar reporter David Lindquist at dave.lindquist@indystar.com or 317-444-6404. Follow him on Twitter: @317Lindquist.

Elaine F. Brim