Title: Championship Tree
Artist: Dwight Bassett
Year Completed: 2009
Materials: Carved Live Ash
Championship Tree is a tribute to the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels Men’s basketball Team and its 2009 NCAA championship.
The tree outside Spanky’s restaurant, at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets was damaged during the street celebration that ensued after the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels Men’s Basketball Team won the NCAA Championship. The tree canopy had to be cut off, leaving a remaining seven-foot stump. The tree was originally an 11-foot Green Ash that had been recommended for removal by Bartlett Tree Experts, arborists hired by the Town to inventory downtown trees in 2007.
Mayor Kevin Foy had the idea to make art out of the remaining stump. Chapel Hill Public Arts Administrator Jeffrey York then approached Dwight Bassett, the Town’s Economic Development Officer and a wood carver. Dwight saw an opportunity to create a temporary work of art, working with power and hand tools within the confines of the narrow tree stump. The vertical segment portrays an arm extended with a basketball balanced on the fingertips. The UNC logo and # 1 further conveys the team’s victory. According to the artist, “My aim was to create something of symbolic importance for the Town and University.”
The basketball is painted with watered-down orange latex paint; the entire carving is sealed with multiple coats of sealant.
The artwork was only expected to last for a year but it remained in place until early 2012, when it began to show cracks and decay. The piece was removed to be restored and displayed in another suitable location.