Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Giant Iguanas, Record Setting Boots and Six Dancing Frogs - The Art of Bob 'Daddy-O' Wade



Bob "Daddy-O" Wade said it all started for him with one gigantic iguana.  If you go by the entrance of the Fort Worth Zoo, you'll see the current resting place of the Iguana. But it more infamously sat atop the Lone Star Cafe in New York City during the 70s and 80s. (aka  The Unofficial Texas Embassy)

The Lone Star Cafe, the Unofficial Texas Embassy - The Most Famous Iguana Perch

   Before it's New Your City days, the Iguana lived near Niagara Falls. The lizard was created for display one summer in the 70s for Art Park, a music and art venue near Niagara Falls. After the summer, Wade had to find a new home for the Iguana. Through friends, he contacted the Lone Star Cafe who purchased the Iguana for their roof.

   Some New York neighbors felt the Iguana was an eyesore, an oversized code busting advertisement. A court battle designated the Iguana as art, but nonetheless, the owners of the Lone Star Cafe lowers the sculpture below the roofs parapet, so it wouldn't be seen from the street, thus quelling neighborhood dissent.

   In 1983, Mayor Ed Koch lef an effort to have the Iguana redisplayed (after tiring of wrongly directed complaints that he banned the lizard)  The rededication of the Iguana was attended by Ed Koch and Texas Governor Mark White, (who just happened to be in New York City on state business that week).

The Iguana being lowered by helicopter at the Fort Worth Zoo

   When the Lone Star Cafe closed in 1989, the iguana went though series of hands, including an east coast horse ranch and a pier in Tribeca. It was finally purchased by patrons in Fort Worth, where it sat in a barn for 11 years. Eventually it found a home atop the Fort Worth Zoo, where it was delivered by helicopter.  (check out the trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Iguana)

   
                        


   The notoriety of the giant Iguana begat the World's Largest Cowboy Boots, perhaps San Antonio's most iconic site, following the Alamo and the Riverwalk.


The boots were created in 1979 for the Washington Project for the Arts. The large scale work of public art was constructed and displayed just a few blocks from the White House for over a year on 12th and Avenue G. After the exhibit was over, the Rouse Corporation offered to buy the boots to place outside North Star Mall.

The Boots being constructed for the first time in downtown Washington DC

Bob "Daddy-O" Wad across the street from his boots

   The transportation of the giant boots was an adventure in itself. The boots got stuck in an overpass before leaving the Washington DC. The trucks transporting the oversized footwear had to take back roads all the way to Texas to avoid police, using CB radios to alert the drivers to possible trouble.
   
The boots being reassembled in San Antonio
   In the early days at the mall, KTSA radio became the talk of the town when they built a broadcast booth atop the boot.  For a short time, a homeless man had made a home inside the boot. Today the World’s Largest Pair of Boots has become one of San Antonio’s most recognizable sites. 

   The Iguana begat the Boots, the Boots begat the Frogs.  The six frogs were originally located in Dallas on lower Greenville Ave atop a club called Tango were Bob Wade's next iconic commission. The club was opened by Shannon Wynne, the son of Angus Wynne, the developer of Six Flags.

   The club was originally to be named Six Frogs over Tango. Like the Iguana, Dallas neighbors complained about the frogs. Eventually, the frogs were removed and took a circular tour of Texas. For a while they rested above a gas station south of Dallas called Carl's Corner.

The Frogs atop the Chuy's in Nashville
   Today, 3 are in Nashville atop a Chuy's restaurant and 3 are back on Greenville Ave atop the Taco Cabana which sits at the same address as Tango. 

The Frogs at Taco Cabana





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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dallas Jail Starts Out As Luxury Hotel

   Every day from my studio, I can see the beautiful Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (aka The Big Bent Pole) but I also see the Bill Decker Detention Center.


   Most people probably don't know that this jail was once a luxury hotel where the Beatles stayed on the one trip to Dallas.  Back in the 60s this was a rather upscale join known as the Cabana Motor Hotel. Doris Day was a one time owner. Raquel Welch once worked their as a cocktail waitress

   Enjoy a blast from the bast, The Cabana Motor Hotel, in more glamorous days.









News Story from December 12, 1984




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Monday, August 4, 2014

Dallas' Bridge Park


   First there was the wildly successful Klyde Warren Deck Park between Uptown and Downtown. Now comes Dallas' newest attraction, the Bridge Park.

   Opened with relatively minor fanfare, the bridge park was built on the old Continental Avenue Bridge which was replaced by the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.  Today it connects pedestrians to the two areas which are predicted to have immense changes in the next 20 years, Riverside Boulevard (formerly Industrial Boulevard) and West Dallas.

    Below are a few photos of Dallas most unusual park.
The Continental Bridge in the shade of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Looking east, toward downtown


A climbing . . . blob


Chess Tables, Umbrellas and Vines that will eventually add shade


Misters and loungers give a place to cool off and get sun.


Underneath the bridges, running trails



One of many chairs, benches and tables on the bridge park

One of many chairs, benches and tables on the bridge park

Looking west toward Trinity Groves


A small playground with the climbing blob

Great views of the parallel Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge


A short distance away is the new Sylvan Avenue Bridge which has an offramp that will connect you to the new running trails and other park features in the Trinity River Project.





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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Update: Fort Worth's Forgotten Park to Reopen


Note: This Story was originally published in 2011. This past week, the city of Fort Worth announced that they are taking bids to restore and reopen the park, hopefully by 2016. 


   Can you have a city park designed by a prominent landscape architect and have nobody notice when it closes?  The answer is yes, which is easy to understand when you consider that few people have ever noticed that the park even existed. What makes this story so unbelievable is that the park is on a busy downtown corner across the street from the Tarrant County Courthouse.



   Heritage Park was opened on the corner of Belknap and Main in downtown Fort Worth to commemorate the founding of the original military post in 1849. The park, designed by noted architect Lawrence Halprin, opened in 1976. It featured numerous water features intermingled with shaded paths and a cantilevered walkway built over the bluff overlooking the Trinity River.

  But even though the park was located on a busy intersection, it was one with little foot traffic. Few people noticed Heritage Park. And even fewer noticed in 2007 when the park fell into disrepair and was closed.


   It's been three years since the park has closed. But there is little public uproar to reopen the grounds. I contacted the city of Fort Worth and received a reply from Fernando Costa, the Assistant City Manager.  He wrote that the city is working with Downtown Fort Worth Inc. to raise funds to repair and upgrade the park. But in the past three years, little has been done. Meanwhile, the park is slowly being taking over by nature.

The cantilevered walkway can still be seen on the bluff above the Trinity, even though the trees  have begun to block the view. 

The Water Wall behind chain link.

An ironic caption 'The Vision Endures" on the sign outside the park

A Water Wall that includes the map of the original settlement sits behind chain link.

An urban oasis on the other side of the fence.

A diminished view of the park from the Main Street Street Bridge.


Heritage Park on North Main Street at the top of the Trinity River Bridge



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