Explore Dallas-Fort Worth

Art of the City: Iconic Sculptures and Installations in DFW [Slideshow]

Public artworks reflect the rich history and vibrant, contemporary culture of North Texas.

The North Texas public-art scene has certainly come alive over the past several decades, since the first piece of outdoor art was installed in the early 1960s in commemoration of Old City Park near downtown Dallas. Spectators will immediately relate to the tone of DFW’s abounding artworks, which pay tribute the area’s roots while simultaneously casting an eye on the future.

In Dallas alone, there are around 250 individual works of art populating the area totaling $19 million, thanks in part to not only world-renowned artists who have graced the landscape, but also local artists who have made their marks on their city. Brad Oldham’s “The Traveling Man” series and “SkaterBIRD” sculptures in downtown Dallas reflect the Dallas native’s playful, contemporary imagination. In Deep Ellum, Oldham’s collaborative “Traveling Man” series of three giant robot sculptures (surrounded by functional bird sculptures that serve as seats) was just the beginning for the artist. In 2015, he added to his resume a 22-foot-tall sculpture on top of a parking garage at 1200 Ross Ave. To find it, head near the Dallas Arts District or West End in downtown and look up: It’s hard to miss the massive bird launching off the garage on his skateboard.

SkaterBird Brad Oldham Dallas
Brad Oldham's "SkaterBIRD" (©Joseph Haubert)

For history buffs, take a stroll through Pioneer Plaza in downtown and experience the iconic cattle-drive sculptures, which are rumored to be the largest bronze sculptures of their type in the world. In this installation, three statuesque cowboys drive the bronze longhorn steers onto the range. Among native plants and a bubbling stream, the scene portrays the arrival of the first settlers in North Texas. The Pioneer Plaza sculptures were created by artist Robert Summers from Glen Rose, Texas and can be found adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center at Young and Griffin next to the historical Pioneer Cemetery.

Pioneer Plaza Dallas
At Pioneer Plaza in downtown Dallas, a cowboy seems to watch over the Dallas skyline. (©Brett Chisum/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Caught in mid-run at Williams Square Plaza in Irving, the larger-than-life "Mustangs at Las Colinas" were installed in 1984 at the East Tower of the plaza, and comprise the largest equestrian sculpture in the world.  Created by African wildlife artist Robert Glen, also featured at a small museum nearby, the sculpture depicts a herd of nine wild mustangs running through a fountain as the water seems to splash beneath the hooves. Inhabiting a good portion of Texas at one time, these horses pay homage to the free spirit of the pioneers who first settled in North Texas.

Home to the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers, Arlington, Texas, is a city of dreams. As the city’s first public art acquisition,  Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg’s “DREAM” represents Arlington’s art renaissance and can be found a block west of Founders Plaza and the Levitt Pavilion. Made of heavy, sheet-metal steel, each letter weighs about half a ton and stands 12-feet tall. Illuminated with LED and external lights that change colors, the interactive piece reminds visitors to aim for the sky in Arlington, newly nicknamed “the American Dream City.”

Arlington DREAM Michael Holtberg
Cutouts of birds on the letters of Arlington's "DREAM" sculpture offer different shadows and perspectives depending on the time of day. (©Michael Holtberg/Kin Yau Photo)

Even taller is the 30-foot “Eye” on Main Street in downtown Dallas at the Joule Hotel. Created by Tony Tasset, the sculpture is exactly as the name implies – one big eye.  A mixed media work of fiberglass, resin, oil paint and steel, the sculpture’s iris is said to be modeled after Tasset’s own blue eyes. Known for showcasing creative, contemporary and often unusual art, the Joule’s “Eye” will stare at hotel guests and pedestrians indefinitely.

Also in downtown at Bryan Street’s Cancer Survivors Plaza is “Cancer… There’s Hope,” a collection of bronze sculptures located within a small urban park. The last work completed by Salmones before his death, the piece represents a collective journey through cancer, and is partnered on the park’s north side with a 5,000-pound Kugel ball by Josef Kusser. Both pieces are a gentle reminder of hope for downtown passers-by, reminding them of the power of strength, unity and positive change. 

Cancer Survivors Plaza Dallas
Cancer Survivors Plaza's largest landmark is this bronze sculpture, considered to be a labor of love by artist Victor Salmones, who completed the piece just before his death. (©Michael Holtberg/Kin Yau Photo)

Even if it was at one time Dallas’ most-loved landmark sitting atop of what is now the Magnolia Hotel, the icon referred to as “The Flying Red Horse” almost lost its wings. Born in the 1930s as the logo for Magnolia Oil Company, the bright red “Pegasus” could be seen flying 450-feet above the street and from 75 miles away on a clear night. The original Pegasus now guards the grounds of the Omni Dallas downtown, thanks to the hotel developer who found the lost horses in a city-owned shed and thought they should fly again.

SLIDESHOW: Art of the City: Iconic Sculptures Installations in DFW