Last year, college student Joe Franke and founder of ActivakeMKE, whose mission is "to connect the community by activating people and unused space through the idea of sports and fitness, thus providing focal points where all can gather," put together a team to renovate the two ragged basketball courts at Tiefenthaler Park in the Midtown neighborhood.
"We believe basketball brings people together in a powerful way," Franke told me last year when I wrote more in-depth about the project. "Milwaukeeans from all walks of life can coexist and share the experience through sport, music and art.
"So, with this (project), we were lucky to take a step in the right direction. We updated the nets, rims and paint lines at Tiefenthaler Park. This is the first of many series of renovations to not only Tiefenthaler Park, but ideally more parks around Milwaukee. It will not only be basketball renovations, but bringing in art and music, as well."
We went back to take a look now that the "floor" of one of the two courts has been painted, following a design by Steve Kodis, who said his work was inspired by the late Robert Indiana's beloved 1977 MECCA floor design for the Milwaukee Bucks.
That design is back in the news thanks to new Bucks uniforms that were also inspired by Indiana's floor. Indiana died in May, about a week after his iconic "LOVE" sculpture was installed at the foot of Wisconsin Avenue as part of Sculpture Milwaukee.
It looks pretty great, as you can see from these photos, and from the video below, posted to Instagram by Kodis.
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I’m honored to have been a small part of this big project, designing this basketball court titled HOME COURT. See it IRL at Tiefenthaler Park, Midtown, Milwaukee, WI. — An homage to the late Robert Indiana whose MECCA Floor, designed for the @bucks in 1977, brought together seemingly opposite worlds of sport and art; becoming a symbol of good times and the world’s largest piece of pop art. — The Artists @UnitedSpecies, @Lakevalleycamp, @activatemke2018, @airbrushassassin, @projectbackboard, @WcTank, @_websterx, @jzzam_peterson, @joefr_nke — Original music by @handbookuk
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.