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Chuckwalla, Kingman’s newest downtown resident, settles in

Artist Solomon Bassoff of Faducci Studio in North San Juan, California, sits on his Arizona chuckwalla lizard sculpture that was unveiled Friday. It’s part of the City of Kingman’s Art in Public Places program.

Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.

Artist Solomon Bassoff of Faducci Studio in North San Juan, California, sits on his Arizona chuckwalla lizard sculpture that was unveiled Friday. It’s part of the City of Kingman’s Art in Public Places program.

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Joey Kaelin, 11, was the first kid ever to climb on the chuckwalla sculpture on the corner of Andy Devine Avenue and Fourth Street.

KINGMAN – The 7-foot, 1,831-pound Arizona Chuckwalla lizard sculpture by California artist Solomon Bassoff was unveiled before a handful of people Friday afternoon at the southwest corner of Andy Devine Boulevard and Fourth Street.

“I’m very happy with how it came out, the detail work and contrast with the glass and concrete,” said Solomon, who owns Faducci Studio in North San Juan, California.

Bassoff said his goal as an artist is to educate and inspire the community about local environment and wildlife. His artwork is on display across the country.

The sculpture became a topic of controversy among some people who complained about its $10,000 price tag, though others in the community see it as a tourist attraction and photo opportunity, like the “Running Hare” metal sculpture across the street.

“It’s awesome,” said 11-year-old Joey Kaelin, who was the first kid to climb onto the lizard. “It’s looks so life-like too. I think other kids will think it’s awesome too.”

The artwork will be an engaging addition to the already evolving downtown scene, said Josh Noble, tourism director for the City of Kingman.

Bassoff said he had no estimate on how many hours he spent hand-sculpting the concrete body of the lizard mixed and covering its back with Italian mosaic glass squares for pigmentation. The lizard’s giant claws are made of bronze and its brilliant brown eyes are made of glass.

“This large sculpture is intended for everyone to enjoy,” he said.