Flowers adorn iconic sculpture
With his left hand perched atop his piano and his right hand playing the keyboard, the Hoagy Carmichael Landmark Sculpture rests in a comfortable spot next to the IU Cinema.
A flower is often found in the bronze statue’s hand.
The flower is not a part of the sculpture. Rather, a real one is placed through the statue’s slightly open hand and on its fedora.
“Generally it’s IU patrons that walk along and pick one off — like our mums or our petunias — and puts it there,” said Mike Girvin, campus division manager for IU Physical Plant.
Girvin said his first year at IU marked the same year the sculpture found a permanent home in Bloomington. Still, Girvin said his department had no role in the placement of the flowers and maintains he has never personally placed a flower on the statue.
The flowers and the people who place them on the sculpture often change. Except for winter, Hoagy sees a different flower each season.
“Generally, I’ve seen every different flower that we’ve grown in his hands at one time,” Girvin said.
IU normally grows an array of flowers such as tulips and petunias in the spring and mums in the fall.
The statue was constructed in honor of Hoagy Carmichael, a Bloomington native and IU alumni.
Though Carmichael earned his law degree from IU, he decided to pursue a career in music after graduating. He led IU’s band, appropriately named Carmichael’s Collegians, and went on to become an acclaimed jazz composer. Carmichael’s song, “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” won him an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1952.
Michael Macaulay, who also grew up in Bloomington, said it was a year-long process to sculpt the statue. The flower, however, has been consistently maintained.
“They just keep reappearing because now it’s turned into a tradition,” Macaulay said.
The statue has its own WordPress page, which includes pictures of the sculpture in different settings, from different angles and with different items in its hand.
“The only thing that has consistently appeared has been the rose or the red flowers in his hand,” Macaulay said.