Client: Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Location: Dallas, TX, United States
Completion date: 2009
Artwork budget: $1,400,000
Brad Oldham Sculpture
Brad Oldham Sculpture
When Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) needed to close in the below-ground tunnel entrance into the Deep Ellum neighborhood to build an at-grade rail station, the agency invested in a monumental public art installation to create a new sense of arrival in place of the beloved tunnel gateway. Sculptor Brad Oldham and animator Brandon Oldenburg were the lead artists on the creation of a three-site installation called “The Traveling Man”; that has become an icon for not only the neighborhood but also for the city of Dallas.
Born of the railroads in the late 1800s, Deep Ellum took root as a multi-cultural community with a thriving blues and jazz music scene amongst food markets, restaurants, bars, theaters, and small businesses. In recent incarnations, Deep Ellum is home to trendy shops, lofts, restaurants, nightclubs, live music venues, art galleries, and tattoo parlors. Today, the neighborhood seeks a revival and the DART light rail station is a positive step. Another key step is the community-building, place-making artwork that captures the neighborhood's vital history with an eye to the future.
"The Traveling Man-Walking Tall" is 40-feet tall and creates a stunning welcome to Deep Ellum with an outstretched hand of friendship, surrounded by his BIRD friends. "The Traveling Man-Waiting on a Train" is installed across the street on the other side of the rail station. He practices his music, leans against a concrete artifact from the tunnels, and spends time with BIRDs (that represent the souls of the artists, entrepreneurs, musicians and business owners past and present). In the next block, "The Traveling Man-Awaking" is the installation that shows the gentle giant emerging from the ground. Just his sweet head is above ground, surrounded by "BIRD" friends.
Brad Oldham, Brandon Oldenburg and Christy Coltrin created "The Traveling Man" with a deep backstory that pulls from neighborhood physical history, characters about the hood (past and present) and many creative, glorious ideas from the team that birthed the sculptures. Once the renderings and site plans were complete, the engineering of the sculptures took as much time as the actual building of the stainless steel and steel sculptures. "The Traveling Man-Walking Tall" only has two points of contact with the ground and goes about 40 deep into the ground to withstand a 150 MPH windshear. With the story, renderings and engineering in place, Brad Oldham became the sole lead of his team to build and install the sculptures. He built the bones of the sculptures in part off-site and in part on-location. The stainless steel skin was hand applied and riveted on location.
"The Traveling Man" installation has been honored with many awards - including being named a top sculpture in North America by the Americans for the Arts, a top public art installation by USA Today and others - but the highest honor comes with the place that this sculpture has earned in the heart of Dallas. Residents and visitors alike engage with "The Traveling Man" in the most creative and memorable ways.