Bucky on Parade: "Retro Bucky" celebrates Bucky's different "looks"

Published: Jun. 1, 2018 at 2:54 PM CDT
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From the dogs at her feet in her studio, to the works of art she creates, Sue Medaris loves animals. When she was offered the chance to paint her favorite furry creature--Bucky Badger-- for Bucky on Parade, She said, "Awesome! I was really psyched."

Medaris is the artist behind "Retro Bucky". The Bucky on Parade statue's a celebration of Wisconsin's favorite mascot as he has looked from 1948 to the present.

When her design was chosen, Medaris said, "It was kind of a dream come true, because first of all it's a statue of Bucky, and then I get to paint Bucky's on Bucky, so it's kind of like the ultimate dream. I think, it's kind of like full circle. I never would've dreamed as a kid I'd be painting Bucky Badgers on a Bucky Badger statue--let's put it that way."

Her love for Bucky Badger goes back to her childhood. "We moved here when I was about four, and my dad got a professorship, that's why we came here. And I had this Bucky Badger sweatshirt and I just fell in love with Bucky ever since I was a kid--partly because he's an animal and I love animals. So, from a very early age, I thought Bucky was super great.

Tricia Nolan is Assistant Vice Chancellor, Marketing and Brand Strategy with UW-Madison. She's in charge of the Bucky Badger trademark. Like Medaris, she's also a big Bucky fan. She said,

"Well, he is beloved. I feel like people feel a little bit closer to Bucky because he exhibits that sense of inspired goofiness that we love here--that's part of our brand, right? We're fun, but we don't take ourselves too seriously, and we're funny, but we're smart funny. So, I think Bucky just kind of nails that, and that's why people feel attached to him--why he's universally beloved."

Nolan's job is to make sure Bucky's trademarked image is not misused. Bucky's a big part of the U-W brand, and the university protects that brand fiercely...like a badger.

So when the Bucky on Parade people at the Madison Area Sports Commission first asked the university if artists could create unique Bucky Badgers as the basis for a public art project, the university really had to think about it.

Nolan explained, "We spend most of our time saying, do NOT alter Bucky, and do NOT change him, because he's such a hallmark. Why would we allow this creative, artistic interpretation? It was a pretty big lift for us to go hey, we're going to let other people have a say at what Bucky looks like. It took a lot of trust along the way, took a lot of trust-building. Nolan and the university were very impressed with the designs from artists like Medaris.

Nolan said, she's happy that ultimately the university decided Wisconsin loves Bucky so much people would love to see him portrayed in a different light.

That green light gave Bucky on Parade artists like Sue Medaris a chance to give Wisconsin's favorite mascot a makeover.

Medaris was honored to create "Retro Bucky". "Again, it's that sense of history that is pretty profound for me. I absolutely love Bucky, and being able to paint 'Bucky's on Bucky' was kind of just a dream come true."

You'll find "Retro Bucky" along Lake Mendota at the Wisconsin Alumni Association at 650 N. Lake Street. Medaris also created "Wisconsin Colors" Bucky, which is adorned with Holstein cows, and sits on the Capitol Square.