Remember one thing: That is more than just a tanker of gas.
That is our lifeline to a place beyond that vermin on machines.
—-Mad Max II – The Road Warrior
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“Here, are the stiffening hills, here, the rich cargo
Congealed in the dark arteries,
That hold Glamorgan’s blood.
The midnight miner in the secret seams,
Limb, life, and bread.
– Rhondda Valley”
― Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems
One of my favorite things in Dallas are the little-known Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. Half-restored, few people see them, although millions visit during the state fair. They are hidden by the porticoes along the row of buildings – you have to get up underneath to see them.
And you should.
“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
I have always loved the Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. I think they are among the many unappreciated public artworks in the city. The ones along the southern side have been beautifully restored.
However, the murals on the North Side – exposed to the southern sun – are very faded and in need of loving care (and very hard to photograph). I hope they get some, they are just as gorgeous as the others.
I have seen it in the daylight many times and took some photos of it. But I had never had a good look at it at night. It glows with a preternatural beauty – worth a gander, for sure.
One of the riders on the Stop and Photograph the Roses bike ride met up with us about halfway through. He was delayed because he was picking up a “new” bicycle.
It was a 1936 Monark Silverking and it was way cool. Made of cast aluminum and swaged tubing it was a long way ahead of its time. I didn’t know that there were pre WWII aluminum bicycles.
We posed it in front of the Art Deco sculptures in Fair Park. I realized that the bike was made in the same year as the architecture. It shows.
At the Jazz Age Sunday Social
“Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons
Last weekend I went on a bike ride in Fort Worth with some friends (will get a trip report written, I promise). We loaded up our bikes, rode the DART train to downtown Dallas and then took the TRE train to Forth Worth.
Our rail destination was the T&P Station south of downtown Fort Worth. This is a recently restored historic building built in 1931 as a beautiful example of Zigzag Moderne Art Deco (what a cool name!) architecture.
But the old ticket lobby of the T&P is a beautiful concentrated example of Art Deco excess and beauty. It’s a big room lost in time, available for wedding rentals, and dripping with history. You can almost feel the millions of travelers moving through on their way to the trains. Today, there were only some guys with their bicycles looking around… but at least it is still there, waiting for the next chapter.
I enjoyed the warm weather Sunday by taking in a long bike ride from White Rock Lake down the Santa Fe Trail through East Dallas and on through the mirrored canyons of Main Street Downtown.
This time, I stopped by and snapped some photographs of an odd piece of Art Deco solid artistry outside the Swine Building – the Texas Woofus.
From the plaque:
According to sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens, the Texas Woofus is a composite figure with Texas long-horns, a sheep’s head, a stallion’s neck with mane, a hog’s body, the dulap of a sheep, turkey tail feathers, wings, and a highly decorated strip of a blanket.
The original was created in 1936 for the Texas Centennial. Its fate remains a mystery.
So, the story goes that the original was created – a 9 foot tall, 2,700 pound bronze – but a short time later it simply disappeared. Some people think the religious fundamentalists stole it because it resembled a pagan god – or that is was removed for repair and misplaced. At any rate, for 60 years it was forgotten, until Craig Holcomb, executive director of the Friends of Fair Park saw some old shots of the odd sculpture and thought it was very cool.
A fund raising dinner, The Woofus Dinner, was created and wealthy Dallasites attended, woofing hello and singing a specially-written ditty, “The Woofus Song,” ponied up about fifty grand, enough to rebuild the Woofus.
In 2002 the thing made its re-appearance.
For something with this hallowed a history, it’s sure hidden away in an obscure nook. I had stumbled across it during the Fair one year while on a quest for a bathroom and always wanted to get back for a more leisurely look.
So here, without further ado, I give you, the Texas Woofus.