From giant eyeballs to musical robots, where to find public art in North Texas
Looking to broaden your appreciation of art but don’t know where to start?
To quote the immortal words of Glinda the Good Witch of the North, “There’s no place like home.”
That’s right. A great place to begin your art discovery is in your own neighborhood or in the places you go every day. Some of the best opportunities to enjoy art come in the form of public art that’s all around us.
To help get you started, we've identified a few of the many pieces of public art in the DFW area that you're going to want to check out.
The Eye (2007) by Tony Tasset, Fiberglass, Resin, and Steel Sculpture
Where its located: 1601 Main Street, Dallas
Why you'll love discovering it: The Eye is so quirky; it’s no wonder we started off with it. I mean, c’mon! It’s a 30-foot EYEBALL in the middle of Downtown Dallas! Much like a roadside attraction or a giant ball of string, you just have to go see it. According to the artist, the work has no particular meaning, but he did model it after his own eye.
What to do next: Just two blocks away is the beautiful Thanks-Giving Square. The property consists of a serene garden and a chapel. The garden, set fifteen feet below ground level, uses water features to block out the sounds of the city. The spiral-shaped chapel on the east side of the property is inspired by the Great Mosque in Samarra, Iraq and contains 73 horizontally mounted panels of stained glass.
Whirl (2006) by John Christiansen, Sculpture
Where its located: In front of the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake in East Dallas, 521 E. Lawther Drive, Dallas
Why you'll love discovering it: This airy elliptical sculpture is going to remind you of a breezy summer day. Its bronze rings and leaves sit on a concrete pedestal in a butterfly garden right in front of a popular cultural center. It was the artist's intention to have the flowers in the garden eventually grow to cover the base so it would look like the sculpture was floating.
What to do next: Take a closer look at the Bath House Cultural Center. Constructed in 1930, this Dallas landmark was one of the first Art Deco buildings in the southwest. Originally it was a place for Dallasites to escape the Texas heat; today it's a home for artists and independent theater companies. Walk around to the back of the center and skim some stones on White Rock Lake.
Clean Slate (2015) by KAWS, Painted Bronze Sculpture
Where its located: NorthPark Center - 8687 North Central Expressway, Dallas
Why you'll love discovering it: KAWS' character named "Companion" carries two sleeping (or misbehaving) children. Tired parents navigating the mall with kids can relate to this piece. You can find the sculpture, fittingly enough, near the Mrs. Fields cookie shop. In addition to "Clean Slate," NorthPark Center currently has close to 30 pieces from artists like Mark Di Suvero, Antony Gormley and Henry Moore on view. Pick up a free map at the Concierge, located on Level One near Neiman Marcus, and take a self-guided tour of the artwork.
What to do next: Explore even more of Raymond and Patsy Nasher's collection at the Nasher Sculpture Center in the Dallas Arts District. You'll find works by Calder, de Kooning, di Suvero, Matisse, Miro, Moore, Picasso, Rodin, and many others in the Galleries and Garden. Admission is free on the first Saturday of each month.
Spirit of the Centennial (1936) by Raoul Josset, Sculpture
Where to find it: Women’s Building at Fair Park - 3800 Parry Ave., Dallas
Why you'll love discovering it: The State Fair of Texas is still a few months away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pay a visit to Fair Park to see this beautiful lady. She was created for the 1936 Centennial and was inspired by Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” Instead of emerging from the sea on a clamshell, this beauty sits perched on a Saguaro cactus above a reflecting pool. Saguaro cacti aren't native to Texas, but it's rumored the model who posed for the statue is. That's none other than actress Georgia Carroll, a starlet in the ‘40s. Carroll grew up in East Dallas and is a 1937 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School.
What to do next: This fair lady sits at the entrance to Fair Park. You owe it to yourself spend the day exploring the rest of the treasures located there. Not only is Fair Park home to one of the largest collections Art Deco buildings in the world, but the park’s 244 acres are packed with sculptures, murals and fountains created especially for the 1936 Centennial. A KERA favorite is the Texas Woofus statue. He's a composite of various animals that you'll find during the State Fair.
Where to find it: Arlington Museum of Art, 201 W. Main St., Arlington
Why you'll love discovering it: The girl surrounded by Monarch butterflies who adorns the entrance to the Arlington Museum of Art was painted as a promotional piece for the inaugural KAABOO music festival that took place in May 2019 at AT&T Stadium.
What to do next: Take a mural tour through Downtown Arlington. This handy mapfrom Downtown Arlington.org pinpoints the locations of all the city’s public art. Finish up with a stop at the Mellow Mushroom for pizza and picture with the giant yellow mushroom.
Unity Arch by Owen Morrell, Steel Sculpture
Where to find it: Arlington Entertainment Art Trail at Richard Greene Linear Park, 1601 E. Randol Mill Road, Arlington
Why you'll love discovering it: What better way to enjoy nature than with AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park as a backdrop? The trail features between 15 and 20 different sites that allow you to view around 40 sculptures. The stainless steel infinity sculpture, "Unity Arch," stands nearly 14 feet tall is covered with a mesh made of reflective metal plates.
What to do next: Be sure to sign up for an AT&T Stadium Tour. Besides an up-close look at artwork displayed throughout the stadium, you’ll also get the chance to toss a ball on the world-famous field.
Mustangs of Las Colinas (1984) by Robert Glen, Bronze Sculpture
Where it’s located: Williams Square Plaza, 5221 N. O'Connor Blvd., Irving
Why you'll love discovering it: The bronze sculpture of nine wild mustangs galloping across a stream was commissioned by businessman Ben Carpenter as a focal point for his residential and business development called “Las Colinas.” Working from his studio in Nairobi, Kenya, African wildlife artist Robert Glen spent a year researching mustangs. He used horses from southern Spain as the models for his sculpture—horses with the same bloodlines as those brought to America by the Spanish centuries ago.
What to do next: Take a walk around the banks of Irving’s Lake Carolyn and the Mandalay Canals, which were inspired by the canals in Venice. Next, explore the Water Street area of the Las Colinas Entertainment District where you'll find plenty of restaurants and shops.
Waiting on a Train (2009) by Todd Oldham and Brandon Oldenberg, Metal Sculpture
Where it’s located: Near the corner of Pacific Street and Good-Latimer Expressway in Deep Ellum
Why you'll love discovering it: This sculpture is actually the second of three metal men in the Traveling Man series. His robot brothers, “Walking Tall” and “Awakening,” are nearby along Good Latimer. This guy is interesting because even though he’s new and futuristic, he captures the essence of old Deep Ellum. His head resembles a guitar headstock — a nod towards the area’s music history — and he’s leaning against the last piece of the Good-Latimer Expressway tunnel. The beloved mural-covered tunnel was demolished in 2005 to make way for DART’s Green Line.
What to do next: Deep Ellum is full of amazing murals. Take a stroll down Commerce, Elm and Main streets and you’ll find a treasure trove of artwork perfect for Instagram, selfies or just admiring. In fact, Frank Campagna’smural “Deep Ellum TV” is located on a building right next to “Awakening.” It depicts a dinosaur and a robot playing music together--an update of an early mural that had the two fighting.
We Are Music & Music is Us (2020) by Casto Solano, Metal Sculpture
Where it’s located: Kiest Park 3080 S. Hampton Road, Dallas
Why you're going to love finding it: This outdoor sculpture features four steel-cut images of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his older brother, Jimmie. The musicians are two of Oak Cliff's most favored sons, so it's fitting that it's situated not far from where the two grew up. The images and words on the piece are cut outs, so you can see through them. The look of the weathered steel changes depending on the angle and the time of day you view it.
What to do next: Pack a lunch and plan for a picnic; afterward, take a hike and explore the park’s many walking paths.
Inspiration Alley (2017) murals by various artists
Where it’s located: The Foundry District, 200 Carroll St., Fort Worth
Why you're going to love finding it: Located in the heart of Fort Worth's Foundry District, Inspiration Alley is one of Texas' only permanent outdoor art galleries. The collection of mural art is packed with rotating works from some of the area's most talented artists.
What to do next: Mosey on over to Doc’s Recordsfor a trip down memory lane. Peruse through over 10,000 square feet of vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, and 8 track tapes. More than music, the store also has vintage items like clothing, posters, magazines, comics and music memorabilia.
Vortex (2002) by Richard Serra, Steel Sculpture
Where it’s located: Front Lawn of Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth
Why you'll love discovering it: The words “interactive” and “immersive” get thrown around a lot these days when referring to art, but this piece actually delivers on both counts. Walk inside the immense 67-foot steel structure, look up at the sky through the opening at the top, and then yell or clap. As it bounces off the metal, the reverberation of sound will make you feel like you’re at the Grand Canyon.
What to do next: Make a day of it and explore Fort Worth’s Cultural District. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Artare all world class museums and all are within walking distance of each other. Afterward, head down the bricks on Camp Bowie and treat yourself to a frozen custard from Curly’s or a hamburger from Kincaid’s.
Continue your public art journey with these resources:
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