“Pagan” Statues Make Return to Arlington

Controversial sculpture re-erected in Arlington's entertainment district

The once-controversial Caelum Moor is returning to Arlington this week -- and it's about time.

The art project, sadly referred to as "Pagan" in the past, is a series of stones carved from Texas pink granite that somewhat resemble Stonehenge.

That Celtic connection plagued the artwork until it was finally removed and placed into storage in 1997. The city said the layout of the stones have no celestial connection, though the name "Caelum" is derived from a constellation in the southern skies known as the sculptor's tool or chisel.  "Moor" refers to the windswept landscapes of Scotland.

The pieces were created as an homage to the area's Scottish roots in 1987 by California-based sculptor Norm Hines at the request of Jane Mathes Kelton, whose family was developing the land as a business park. 

The Highlands development project at Interstate 20 and Matlock Road eventually went bust and the stones were donated to the city -- who stored them at a water treatment plant for the past 12 years.

Hines was at Tuesday's groundbreaking for the re-erection of the stones. "I am excited to finally see Caelum Moor visible again," Hines said. "This is public art that people can enjoy and appreciate."

A massive shopping center and concrete parking lots later covered over the waterways of Johnson Creek where the sculpture stood east of the Parks Mall.  In 2007, the Mathes family was finally able to launch their Highlands development, this time as the retail complex known as the Arlington Highlands, a block away on the east side of Matlock Road.

Unfortunately, Caelum Moor was not included in those development plans.

Now, the sculptures will rise again -- this time in Richard Green Linear Park -- between Cowboys Stadium and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  (See a video tour of the proposed layout here.)

The entire sculpture is comprised of five groups of stones, each with their own Celtic name and landscaped setting.  The Caelum Moor monuments range from 8- to 30-feet in height with the combined weight of the project's 22 stones at more than 540 tons.

Officials with the city said the stones will also once again be dramatically lit for night time viewing and will be spread out among the park.  The re-erection is expected to be completed in mid-August.

Caelum Moor was once listed on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Registry of Art in Public Places.

More on Caelum Moor
City of Arlington - Public Art - Caelum Moor
Robin MacRorie's blog on Caelum Moor

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