Ozymandias

ozzy by chancew1
ozzy, a photo by chancew1 on Flickr.

And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”

Percy Bysshe Shelley – Ozymandias

I have always had a soft spot for abandoned sculpture. Something about the idea of an expensive, large, conceived, funded, designed, constructed, dedicated, photographed, and ballyhooed public work of art forgotten, gone to seed, abandoned – yet still there for all to see – stirs something primeval, prevalent, and tragic in my heart and pen.

For a decade or so in the boom times of the waning years of the last century, there was a luxuriant development in North Dallas near the intersection of Highway 75 and the LBJ 635 Interstate loop called Park Central. It rose up on the land of a long-abandoned WWII airbase – yes, really – I discovered that the beloved Olla Podrida was a re-purposed aircraft hanger. There was an outdoor concert venue that everyone remembers and a spate of modern office towers scrambling toward the sky.

It also boasted a serious outdoor sculpture collection. I actually remember breathless news stories when the newest hunk of abstract steel rose into the summer heat. It was all pretty darn cool.

Then the economy cycled one of its many downturns (don’t remember which one) and it all went to crap.

The concert venue closed, the buildings began to gain coats of peeling paint and discolored concrete as everything expensive moved north to the far exburgs and Park Central was pretty much forgotten. Especially the sculptures. They do not bring in very much income in tough times. The artworks quickly disappeared, swallowed up by parking lots. I don’t know where they went. Were they sold off for scrap metal?

They went quickly, except for one. For a decade a lone piece of artwork stood stoutly in a weedy field, right off the interstate. A dark, twisted monolith – I almost expected to see primitive apes waving jawbones at each other around it. Literally, a million people drove by it every day – but I think I was the only one to notice it still standing there. I drove down one day to look for a plaque or some indication of what it was or who the artist was, but could find nothing, even though I worked up a good sweat and fed a thousand mosquitoes digging around in the scrub prickles trying to find some information.

The sculpture disappeared a couple years ago – swallowed up by the parking lot of a brand-spanking-new megachurch. I don’t know where it went. I suppose it was broken down and crushed into a landfill somewhere.

I wonder if I’m the only one that misses it.

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3 responses to “Ozymandias

  1. Love this! And your Shelley quote at the beginning is one of my favs. It is actually featured in the strategy game Civ IV – I don’t remember which technology you have to get to hear it but as I read it I could hear Leonard Nimoy saying it to me. Just like in the game.

  2. Pingback: White Rock Creek Trail | Bill Chance

  3. I’m one of the millions who drove past this, many times, and I did wonder what it was. Despite living in Dallas for decades, I never made it to Olla Podrida and therefore didn’t make the possible connection…

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