1. Drinking Fountain #1
In the Dallas Records Building at 509 Main St., Lauren Woods made a public sculpture out of what was once a “Whites Only” drinking fountain. The county had put a plaque on top of the remnants of the prohibitive sign, but she decided to replace that with a video showing civil rights protesters being pounded by water for fighting for the rights to do simple things like drinking out of a public water fountain. Some argued that the sculpture would be better placed in a museum, but this challenging work of art undoubtedly makes a larger social impact in a public building.
2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial
On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, the U.S. government was overthrown or Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the president or whatever theory you subscribe to. Seven years later, a brilliant architect named Philip Johnson erected this memorial. He would later help design Fort Worth Water Gardens and Thanks-Giving Square. Constructed out of concrete columns with a minimalist design, this huge downtown memorial is meant to be an open tomb that symbolizes the freedom of Kennedy’s spirit.
3. Square Forms with Circles
The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library downtown and the Tate Gallery have something in common: They both have a very similar freestanding bronze sculpture from British artist Barbara Hepworth. The overlapping squares are painted green and the results are geometrical and organic. Her sculptures perfectly exemplify Modernism and can be found in galleries all over the world, but Dallas is lucky enough to have one at the library, 1515 Young St.
4. The Dallas Piece
Henry Moore was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and certainly the most important sculptor Britain has produced. In the late 1960s, he was working on Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae, which was inspired by animal vertebrae. The Dallas Piece used this idea, but was enlarged and rearranged to somewhat resemble Stonehenge. Moore was present when this piece was placed on City Hall plaza back in 1978 and it is his largest outdoor sculpture.
5. Freedman’s Cemetery Memorial
Shortly after the Civil War ended, Freedman was a social and economic center for African Americans. By 1912, it was part of Dallas. This memorial is meant to honor the thousands of freed slaves who were buried in Freedman’s Cemetery. This is an extremely moving memorial from classically trained sculptor David S. Newton. Lifelike bronze statues simultaneously capture the horrors of slavery while preserving dignity. The memorial is located at N. Central Expressway and Calvary Drive.
Viola Delgado is a brilliant woman and a veteran of the local arts scene. Next time you go to DFW airport, be sure to visit her circular floor medallion, meant to remind people of the diversity of culture in Dallas. She didn't realize it until someone pointed it out, but this work of art has eight hands, eight swirls and eight points. When she was installing the piece, the gate number was yet to be determined. But, as fate would have it, Delgado's piece sits in terminal D at gate 8.
Kate Firth’s sculpture for El Centro Community College is displayed on the wall of the school at Main and Lamar streets. The raw materials she uses are in sharp contrast to the organic shapes designed. There are four pieces moving from left to right, the first and largest standing 14 feet off the ground, with five components: Two with stainless steel finish, one yellow, one red and one turquoise. The other three sculptures are close-up dissections from the main sculpture. The glossy colors and organic shapes are a wonderful contrast to the dull gray brick wall of columns that almost resemble a spreadsheet.
8. Pioneer Plaza
The largest public open space in the central Dallas business district commemorates the trails that brought settlers to Dallas and cattle to market. Pioneer Plaza features a life-size bronze cattle drive. Created by artist Robert Summers, there are 49 longhorn cattle herded by three cowboys on horses over a hill and through a stream. Locals never quite get used to the sight of it and it’s a hotspot for tourists.
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9. Floating Sculpture
French abstract sculptor Marta Pan created the two red polyester spheres floating in a fountain in front of City Hall. The reflective sculpture is anchored to the bottom of the fountain on swivel mounts to allow some movement. It was originally displayed in New York City in Central Park and loaned to the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department in 1974, and the piece was dedicated to its current location four years later.
10. Dallas Police Memorial
A striking tribute to police officers slain in the line of duty, this downtown Dallas landmark is 93 feet long and 10 feet wide. The top of the memorial allows sunlight to stream through the horizontal steel plates on the underside, which bears the badge numbers of the fallen officers, cut into the plate and arranged so that sun will project them onto the asphalt below.