Deep Ellum has one of the richest histories in Dallas. Originally an area where freedmen settled after the Civil War, a warehouse and railroad site developed. The area was known as Central Track. In the 1920s, several jazz and blues clubs opened, eventually numbering over 50 clubs. Deep Ellum hosted some of America’s most renowned jazz and blues greats, Blind Lemmon Jefferson, Led Belly Ledbetter, Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith among them.
Over the decades, Deep Ellum has had its cycles of prosperity and dilapidated disparity.
Folklore lives on Elm Street.
There is a Deep Ellum tale that an old locomotive was buried beneath an elm tree. One day a bottle of gin was spilled and the gin splashed on the roots of the elm tree. A weird transformer emerged from the ground. The Traveling Man was born. The Traveling Man is a three piece sculpture dotted around the Deep Ellum area.
The first is “Awakening”. Depicting the birth of Traveling Man. Here, only a portion of his large head is visible. He is welcomed to the world by three songbirds surrounding him.
The second is “Waiting on a Train”. We find the Traveling Man reclining at the nearby DART station strumming his guitar, waiting on his train. The Songbirds are perched nearby, listening.
Number Three is the Traveling Man, “Walking Tall”. Accompanied by his chirping friends, the 40 foot tall icon is proudly strolling along, reminding all of the train yard history and the cradle of arts in Dallas.
This entertaining and visually stimulating project is the brainchild of Brad Oldham, a Texas born Renaissance man. You can see more of his work at bradoldham.com
Yes, there is some interesting art in Dallas. And with it are backstories of perseverance and accomplishment. We hope you join us as we seek them out. If you have suggestions or just want to let us know you were here, please leave a comment.
Tip and JAM