Day Trips

David Adickes sculpts larger-than-life statues of larger-than-life men

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The presidents' heads peek over the barbed wire-topped chain-link fence like prisoners looking for an early release. Their gleaming white concrete skin soaks up the pinks and oranges of the Houston sunset. From a distance, John, Paul, George, and Ringo look over the presidents' shoulders. I had finally found the objects of a daylong search.

My journey looking for David Adickes' presidential statues began on the Internet. Unfortunately, most of the information was out of date. In Pearland, south of Houston, I asked at a convenience store if they knew where the 18-foot heads of our country's leaders were.

"They moved them out of the field next door a few of years ago," the guy said. "It's a shame. Somebody needs to open a park and charge admission. I get a couple of people almost every day asking where they are."

That's a great idea. Two other sets of the heads that I'm looking for are in presidential parks in Williamsburg, Va., and near Mount Rushmore, S.D. Adickes, who has lived in Houston for the last 39 years, built the third set for Pearland, but the developer lost his financing.

It was getting late and time to head home, so I stopped at Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue at I-10 and Sheppard Drive for a sampler platter. I read on the Internet that Adickes' giant statues of the Beatles were near there. At 36 feet tall, you wouldn't think they would be hard to find, but they were. Lexy, the manager at Pizzitola's, gave me directions to Adickes' studio. I was only 15 minutes away. "I've got a picture of my daughter whispering into Andrew Jackson's ear," he said. "It's so cool." He's right; the 43 concrete heads are very cool.

David Adickes has created some of the biggest art in Texas – physically if not artistically. Probably his most famous sculpture is the 67-foot-tall Sam Houston in Huntsville. He also did an approiximately 60-foot-tall Stephen F. Austin statue near Angleton.

Of more modest size, Adickes has done bronze statues of President George H.W. Bush, heart surgeon Denton Cooley, and Congressman Charlie Wilson. He says his favorites are the towering Beatles and Virtuoso, a face and pair of hands playing a cello in downtown Houston.

Adickes is selling the two-story warehouse and lot that contain his SculpturWorx Studio and the presidential heads. "I'm 84 years old," Adickes says. "It's time to simplify my life." He is also opening a museum in his old high school in Huntsville later this year.

A group has an option to move the Beatles to Shreveport, La. The ultimate home of the presidents' heads is undecided.

At least until April, the presidents are accepting visitors at 2500 Summer St. in Houston. To get there going east on I-10, exit at Taylor Street, make a right onto Sawyer, and a right onto Summer just past the Target. To see Adickes' paintings, go to www.adickes.net.

1,022nd in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

David Adickes, Beatles, Sam Houston, Denton Cooley, Charlie Wilson, SculpturWorx Studio

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