Even the art is getting out of Reliant Park: The bronze Miniconjou chief with outstretched arms that’s stood warily outside the Astrodome since 1998 will likely be skipping town soon and making its way to Oklahoma. The city council of the city of Edmond voted last week to spend up to $90,000 to remove the 18-ft. tall, 20,000-lb. sculpture of Chief Touch the Clouds from its stone base and transport it about 450 miles north; $50,000 of that amount is scheduled to go toward a “donation” to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for the privilege of extracting the artwork. Arizona sculptor Dave McGary, who gave the work to the Rodeo 15 years ago, passed away earlier this year at the age of 55, from a rare form of kidney cancer.
Former Edmond mayor Randel Shadid, who’s been eager to bring more public artworks to the municipality just north of Oklahoma City, tells the Edmond Sun that “a representative from Houston” had told him that the sculpture of a cousin of Sioux warrior Crazy Horse “has been maintained and is in good structural condition.” But the artist’s widow paints a different picture of how the sculpture’s been treated at Reliant Park: that it’s in bad shape and will need to be refurbished. “They never took care of it,” Molly McGary told a reporter from the Oklahoman last week. Edmond city council’s agreement to spend the money is contingent on the sculpture being in good condition.
The Oklahoma city was not the only suitor for the sculpture, which
greets visitors arriving to Reliant Park from the adjacent light-rail station stands outside the Reliant Arena, facing the Naomi St. entrance to Reliant Park from Fannin St. Separate cost estimates had been made for moving the sculpture to Ruidosa, New Mexico, and to a museum in Atlanta. Not going with the sculpture: the granite-faced 15-ft.-tall base bearing the Rodeo organization’s logo, which the Oklahoma art enthusiast who’s spurring the purchase described to the Sun reporter as “too expensive for the city to purchase.”
Strangely, there’s been no news coverage of the sculpture’s impending exodus in its adopted hometown. Without referring to the Houston Sports and Convention Corp.’s plans for the Astrodome — the building’s surrounding towers are scheduled to be imploded this weekend — the Sun simply notes that “the sculpture needs to be relocated by February.“
- Edmond considers buying statue now outside the Houston Astrodome [The Oklahoman]
- City considers relocating Houston sculpture here [Edmond Sun]
- Biography [Dave McGary]
- Astrodome coverage [Swamplot]
Photo: Randel Shadid via Edmond Sun