In 1966 Bobbi Louise Gibb (Bobbi Lou) at the age of 23, after training for two years, dreamed of running the Boston Marathon and of accomplishing endeavors then closed to women. When she wrote for her application, she was refused and told it was a men’s division race and that women were physiologically incapable of running marathons. It’s an amazing story that can be read everywhere and is told lovingly by Bobbi in many videos and her booklet “To Boston with Love” which is soon to be reprinted in a special edition.
The story of Bobbi’s run has many wonderful dimensions and has been told by writers who understand running and the passion that goes into it. Her achievement created a physical place for woman and men to grow together simultaneously impacting the greater universe outside of athletics where many women of my generation have continued the quest to bring out the best in each of us.
What has captivated me, a non-runner, however, is the breadth and depth of the person behind the run. Her commitment to the human race, science, and self-expression through the arts. Bobbi wanted to be a doctor as her interest in science began when she accompanied her father to MIT and Tufts as a young girl. Ultimately, she became an intellectual property lawyer to protect scientific accomplishments. Today she focuses on research for ALS and producing paintings and sculpture that celebrates the human body, science, and nature. My friendship with Bobbi began seven years ago at the memorial service of her dearest friend who supported Bobbi’s artistic endeavors. As a marketer and fellow artist, I am working with Bobbi as a coach to help her bring her art forward.
Bobbi’s art is both complex and whimsical at the same time. Her sculpture consists of breathtaking figurines of athletes in motion – runners, dancers, etc.. In this work, she reflects emotion, movement, and focus. The other extreme is a more traditional, “bust” series that captures greatness of figures like Einstein in a realistic fashion.
Bobbi’s paintings consist of small to medium size acrylics and very large 18 foot murals. The paintings capture nature and science in an exaggerated, but realistic manner. The murals are the equivalent of stream of consciousness dialogue with the plant life, the galaxy, and molecules. To date, these art pieces have not been shown, yet tell a powerful story of Bobbi’s philosophy behind the run, “I ran the Boston Marathon out of love. I believe that love is the basis of all meaningful human endeavor. Yet it was a love that was incomplete until it was shared with others.”
There are many celebrations underway this important 50th year since her historic run particularly at the upcoming Boston Marathon on April 18th. But that is just one part of what is important to Bobbi. Her lifetime dream, beyond the run itself, is the ultimate combination of the physical, intellectual, and artistic dimensions – to see a life-size statue of the female runner on the Boston Marathon course– based on her figurine – one that she would re-create for this purpose. Alongside this, she would like share her work and have it exhibited and sold. Like running, sharing the experience with others is as important as the act itself.
Bobbi’s goals are highly achievable with the collective energy of all of us who have enjoyed the benefits of this moment in history. (Update March 2016) Thanks to the 26.2 Foundation, we now have the tools in place to make this happen. I mid March we launched the Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture Project! Please contact me directly if you would like to join the Bobbi Gibb team and help in any of these initiatives.
2.Help spread the word. Share this post with friends that you believe will embrace this story – especially art venues, collectors, publishers, media, etc.
3. Invite Bobbi to tell her story as a motivational speaker.
4. Introduce venues to show her work or offer to host an exhibit or opening
5. Contribute to a funding campaign on FirstGiving