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Dickies Arena's public art celebrates the Western culture of Fort Worth

Posted Oct. 21, 2019

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art on the side of the arena
Dickies Arena's north façade features a triptych portraying many icons of Texas culture.

Dickies Arena continues the city’s rich tradition of public art by welcoming visitors with two large-scale glass tile mosaic murals, one on the south side and another on the north; a pair of massive bas-relief bronzes; and other sculptural and decorative elements integrated into the architecture of the building’s exterior and interior.

The public art program of the arena has been made possible through a gift from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.

As visitors enter either of the building’s two main entrances, they will pass under one of two magnificent glass tile mosaic murals, each commissioned specifically for the facility. Each piece is distinctly different and celebrates the heritage and diversity of Fort Worth and Texas. The Western-inspired art is a cornerstone of the arena, which is designed by architect David M. Schwarz and is located adjacent to Fort Worth’s Cultural District.

“Los Caballos”

Crowning the south façade is a 12-foot-tall-by-63-foot-wide work by Denver-based William Matthews, one of today’s foremost Western artists, known for his depictions of working cowboys and the American West.

Titled “Los Caballos,” the mural commemorates the horse, first brought by the Spanish and now an enduring symbol of the American West, whose introduction to North America transformed the Great Plains and the West for both Native Americans and American pioneers.

Set against an untamed landscape, the piece captures the movement of wild horses running among scrub and brush, set against rolling hills, mesas and a storm-filled sky. Matthews’ work was fabricated in the celebrated female-owned studio Mosaicos Venecianos in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where artisans pieced together more than 600,000 hand-cut glass tiles of 570 different colors to realize this scene with remarkable richness and vibrancy.

Flanking Matthews’ mural are two bas-relief sculptures, further celebrating the significance of the horse in the history of the American West. The two 12-foot-tall works, cast in bronze, were conceived from Matthews’ original composition drawings and sculpted by Texas-based artist Buckeye Blake, a member of the Cherokee Nation.

On the left is a depiction of an early-day cowboy of the American West, skilled and confident. On the opposite side is a Comanche, considered the “Lord of the Plains” and master of the horse culture, brave and graceful. Both figures, seated on horseback, serve as welcoming ambassadors to all visitors.

North Facade

The building’s north façade features a soaring triptych measuring 10 feet in height by 108 feet in width portraying the roots and icons of Texas culture.

Created by Evergreene Architectural Arts, America’s largest and most respected specialty contractor for architectural arts, the mural was fabricated in Italy using more than 600,000 colored glass tiles. It depicts scenes telling the story of Texas, highlighting early settlers and cowhands, set amidst Texas flora, fauna and more.

Here, diverse pioneering figures present an inclusive and true reflection of Texas culture and history, including a cowgirl, an African-American cowboy, a vaquero and a cowboy bearing a Lone Star flag, all mounted on horseback.

Designed in an Art Deco style to pay homage to the adjacent, historic and celebrated WPA-era Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Dickies Arena’s numerous architectural details depict the culture and flora of Fort Worth, including wildflowers etched in designs and native prairie grasses sculpted in metal inside the building.

The arena is slated to open to the public on Oct. 26 and will host its first rodeo in January.

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