KINGMAN – One woman said she doesn’t want Kingman to be known as the “lizard town,” but another said a sculpture of the Arizona chuckwalla lizard would be great complement to the “Running Hare” that’s become a downtown photo opportunity.
City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to commission artist Solomon Bassiff from North San Juan, California, to create the chuckwalla lizard at a total cost of $10,000.
The artwork will be displayed in downtown Kingman as part of the city’s Art in Public Places initiative. It started with “Running Hare,” a 12-foot metal jackrabbit sculpture by former ArtHub resident Donald Gialanella, at the corner of Route 66 and Fourth Street.
The hand-sculpted, pigmented concrete chuckwalla will be 7 foot by 4 foot by 3 foot in size, embedded with Italian glass mosaic.
“I think public art should be sort of a component of branding,” said Councilman Travis Lingenfelter, who voted against the contract. “This piece, to me, seems a little eclectic. I don’t know how it fits into the Kingman brand.”
Josh Noble, tourism director for the city, said a committee with experience in the arts liked what Bassiff has done in other cities such as Oklahoma City and Seattle.
The city received three proposals for the project, including two local artists, Noble said. They were scored on criteria such as whether they were thought-provoking, easy to maintain and scale of content, and Bassiff scored the highest.
The city would have the rights to reproduce the chuckwalla’s image on postcards and other souvenirs sold at the Powerhouse Visitor Center gift shop, Noble noted.
No location has yet been determined for the work of art, though one citizen suggested the Third Street bus stop where the lizard would get plenty of sunshine. It could be moved to the most suitable location after being dropped off, Noble said.
The sculpture will be delivered for installation within two months of signing the contract.
Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly said she really likes the “Running Hare.”
“It’s a great piece of art. People photograph it. I don’t think that’s become a theme of downtown. It’s just another interesting thing to look at,” she said.