Oddball sculpture returns to 2002 Texas State Fair | KERA News

Oddball sculpture returns to 2002 Texas State Fair

Dallas, TX – Terri Hodge, Texas Representative: When you run for public office, you never know what'll happen. It is now my distinct pleasure to present the recreated, great, Texas Woofus to the city of Dallas. This has been fun...

Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: In recent years, Texas Representative Terri Hodge, past president of The Friends of Fair Park, has helped raise millions of tax dollars to renovate and restore the renowned structures in Fair Park. The world's largest collection of Art Deco buildings sculptures and murals dates back to 1936, the year of the Texas Centennial. But to re-do the Woofus, the weird, water-spitting beast that's part longhorn, pig, goat and sheep with a turkey tail and duck wings, the money was all privately raised.

Craig Holcombe, President, Friends of Fair Park: As far as we can tell, the Woofus disappeared, some time after 1936.

Zeeble: Craig Holcombe's been the Friends of Fair Park president for a decade now. While working to fix crumbling buildings that twice put Fair Park on the most endangered places list by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Holcombe heard about this sculpture he never knew existed until he saw a 60-year-old photo of the beast, in front of the Swine Building.

Holcombe: I thought, "Wow, this is really cool, this would really be fun. Enough of the serious stuff!" Once you see it, because it's very phantasmagorical, you can't help but wonder if there might've been some liquid refreshment involved in the creative process.

Jon Faubion, director, Trust of sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens: He was not inclined to drink, so we can rule that out. But he had a fabulous sense of humor.

Zeeble: That's Jon Faubion, who directs the trust of sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens. The sculptor was among the nation's most revered in 1936, when he created every sculpture for the Texas Exposition. They included the six massive masterpieces still standing near the reflecting pool. After Faubion heard of the Woofus effort, he pulled the original model out of storage and lent the 2-foot miniature to the city.

Faubion: The reason this statue is important is because it shows the humor and bravado that was part of Stevens' makeup and eventually became a distinguishing characteristic of this style of art called Cowboy High Style. He came to celebrate Texas, and I think Texans got something worth celebrating.

Zeeble: The Woofus recreation effort fell to David Newton, admired for his Freedman's Cemetery Memorial sculptures. Newton says he needed to creep into the mind of Stevens to understand how the sculpture's disparate body parts fit together.

David Newton, Freedman's Cemetery Memorial sculptor: I could see his piece is almost like music. When you look at the math, it's almost like a Bach fugue. You can anticipate the next measurement based on what you've done before.

Zeeble: Bach isn't the music that now accompanies Fair Park's new sculpture. The 10-foot-wide, 10-foot-tall work perched atop a 15-foot pedestal, has its own song, with words written by Craig Holcombe and singer Hector Garcia.

Hector Garcia, singer: Woofus song ... first verse ... again ... "when we hear oink, quack, neigh ... there's a Texas woofus, not really such a doofus, especially when you've been on red or white wine. Years ago he vanished, or maybe he was banished, all but forgotten, he still doesn't whine..."

Zeeble: The new Texas Woofus is in Fair Park's Agrarian section, in front of the Swine Building, finished in painted bronze, not concrete like the original, so it'll live a long life. For KERA 90.1, I'm Bill Zeeble.

Garcia: "...woof, woof, woof, yes, woof woof woof..."

To contact Bill Zeeble, please send emails to bzeeble@kera.org.