I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes on Monday afternoon soaking up the downtown sunshine and good weather at Pioneer Park Cemetery, where some of the city’s founders and early luminaries are buried in the shade of downtown congresses. Until last summer, a Confederate war memorial also stood here. By Monday morning, a statue that I will tentatively describe as a haloed squid-headed female figure had risen in place of former Confederate soldiers.
When I went up, the cemetery seemed empty, except for a Dallas Morning News journalist who preceded me to the scene. We both followed the example of WFAA’s Pete Freedman, who had tweeted about the statue’s apparent nocturnal appearance earlier today. Freedman, the founder of Central Track, has really owned the ‘strange cephalopod statue in Dallas’ beat over the past few years, and it’s well worth reading his full account of the bizarre saga that began in 2019. when downtown workers encountered another human statue squid head installed near the convention center.
This new installation appears to be by the same artist, identified on a nearby plaque as Solomon. Both works share a cephalopod-human hybrid style as well as the same plaque style, each detailing a supernatural explanation of Dallas’ early history. The first statue has been described as a “self-portrait” of John Neely Bryan, the merchant who founded Dallas before eventually dying at Texas Statue Lunatic Asylum. This new coin is billed as a portrait of Sarah Horton Cockrell, an early Dallasite who was instrumental in building a suspension bridge over the Trinity River in the 1860s and 70s, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
I would like to tell you that I know what all this means. I can tell you that T. Boone Pickens, dead for over two years, probably didn’t give this to the city of Dallas, as the plaque claims. I can also tell you that I really like this piece. Dallas is weird. We should embrace it with more squid sculptures making mysterious claims about our ancient history.
I hope for three things here. I would like to see the city leave this stadium, at least for a little while. I’d like to see Freedman, who seems to have already done some sort of Zodiac-like a string conspiratorial odyssey on an evidence panel trying to figure out who installed this piece and why, dive back in and solve the case, perhaps with some help from the mob. And I would like to see the Bana Man, the other anonymous guerrilla artist who has long vexed us with confusing works left in downtown Dallas, making a resurgence.