Cruising through the streets of Dallas, we continued our search for iconic signature features of the city. We weren’t disappointed. Only a few blocks down the road we found what we were looking for.
The Steers are running in Pioneer Plaza. Well, they’re bronze so they’re not really running, but they look like they are. The Longhorns are crossing a stream under the watchful eyes of the bronze trail riders. This fifty-two piece sculpture from Robert Summers, is captivating and is the second most popular attraction in downtown Big D (another moniker), after Dealey Plaza. 49 life-size Longhorn steers coming into a ravine with 3 bronze cowboys herding them along.
This $9 million dollar bronze sculpture garden was opened in 1995 under a cloud of controversy that continues almost 25 years later. Local artists filed lawsuits in attempts to stop the construction and installation citing historical inaccuracies of the monument. They also didn’t want to promote a “Cow town” image for Dallas. They were promoting a fashion and finance persona.
Real Estate baron, Trammel Crow, the driving force behind the project didn’t care. He wanted a Western sculpture in Dallas. In the spirit of Dallas’ “Get it done” attitude, Crow lined up the donors to make it happen. They got it done.
Today, Dallas’ Western heritage and the role of the Shawnee Cattle trail is honored in the shadow of our skyscrapers.
Many, many years ago, The Magnolia Oil Company was one of the major oil companies in the country. The company adopted a red, winged flying horse, Pegasus, for its symbol.
In 1939, a huge neon lighted Pegasus was placed on top of the Magnolia Building, the tallest building in Dallas at the time. From as far away as Waco, pilots could see the red glow of Pegasus. The brightly lit red horse became an emblem for Dallas, riding the skyline for decades.
When Magnolia became part of the Mobil Oil Corp in 1959, Pegasus continued to fly over Dallas, representing Mobil Oil and Dallas. In 1999, Mobil and Exxon merged. Arrangements were made to keep Dallas and Pegasus together.
The original Pegasus sits in front of the Omni Hotel on the west side of downtown. A newer, higher tech red flying horse has taken Pegasus’ place atop the Magnolia building. Although it is buried in the skyline today, it still seems to be right at home.
Dallas’ City Hall is iconic in it’s own right, with it’s up-side-down appearance that served as a backdrop for the Robocop movies. A reflecting pond sits in front of the building, intended to juxtaposition the wide Texas sky with the architecture. Floating in the pond are one large red sphere accompanied by a smaller sphere. These spheres wander the pool, loosely attached. Artist Marta Pan likens them to mother and child.
Mrs. Stanley Marcus arranged for the piece to be loaned to Dallas by the City of New York, where it was displayed in Central Park. It was initially placed in the Fair Park Lagoon next to the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. In 1978 the sculpture was permanently relocated to its current home. It is dedicated to Mrs. Marcus who was instrumental bringing it to City Hall. Mrs. Marcus died the night before the art was to be dedicated.
Created in Chicago by Tony Tasset in 2007 for the Chicago Loop Alliance program, this larger than life sculpture spent several years in storage after the Chicago exhibit until it was purchased by Timothy Headington, owner of the Joule Hotel in 2013.
It stands 30 feet tall and currently sits in the garden of the ultra-swanky Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas. Simply known as Eye. It is 30 feet tall and oddly, weirdly realistic. Modeled after Mr Tasset’s own baby blues. Eye was created to echo elements of pop culture.
Mr. Headington brought Eye to Dallas to be part of his expansive art collection housed in the Joule. New York Times Magazine has called the Joule collection an art destination. Eye will anchor the sculpture garden.
Definitely a site to see. If you come, let us know……guess what we’ll keep out for you? (groan!)