|“Jail Tree Felon” by J Seward Johnson. (Julianne G. Crane)|
RVing Snowbirds who are roaming the southwest Arizona byways will soon discover Wickenburg, once voted the “Most Western” town in the west. About 60 miles northwest of Phoenix, True West magazine put Wickenburg in the “Top 10 List of True Western Towns of 2008.“
It seems in the mid-1800s Henry Wickenburg came to the area in search of gold and discovered the Vulture Mine, where over $30 million in gold was found. There are still relics around the area that stand as a tribute to these early adventurers as well as a walking tour around Vulture Mine, according to the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce.
Each year the town celebrates “Gold Rush Days” (Feb. 12-15, 2015). “The heritage event was founded 67 years ago, and today Gold Rush Days draws tens of thousands of visitors, during the 3 ½ days of activities. Gold Rush Days most significant recognition is from the Library of Congress, whereas Gold Rush Days is one of America’s Living Legacies,” says the Chamber.
|“Vaquero with Guitar” (Julianne G. Crane)|
To add a contemporary touch to Wickenburg’s western attractions, with an affectionate nod to its history, the town commissioned realistic life-size bronze sculptures that are threaded through the old section of town.
The sculptures are a series of six old western characters and 16 linking animal pieces by renowned artist J. Seward Johnson. The artist’s work is in private and public collections around the world.
An added feature is that each large sculpture includes a button with a narrative on the history of the area.
The public art includes “Jail Tree Felon” (top) that depicts “the use of the large mesquite tree as a place to chain prisoners in early Wickenburg days until they could be transported to the nearest jail in Prescott. It is located at the Jail Tree Park on Tegner Street (Hwy-93) by Chaparral Ice Cream Parlor and Circle K.”
“Vaquero with Guitar” (above right) provided “an evening serenade to downtown visitors in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He strums on Wickenburg Way (Hwy-60) in front of the Gold Nugget Lounge.”
|Gila Monster (Julianne G. Crane)|
The 16 smaller bronzes “depict local desert creatures including gila monsters (left), roadrunners, tarantulas and rattlesnakes. They provide linkage between the six major pieces.”
Click on photos to enlarge: From top: ‘Jail Tree Felon,’ ‘Vaquero with Guitar,’and ‘Gila Monster.’ (Julianne G. Crane)