By Staci Antu
After two successful and fun sessions of heART of Huntsville, we were excited for the grand finale on our third session. We started off at the Huntsville Statue and Visitor Center, where we met Visitor Services Coordinator, Jamie Matthews.
She began by giving us an overview of the different attractions in Huntsville such as the “Big Sam” statue which has brought in numerous of tourists to the city. A map of the world was marked with pins showing the variety of countries that tourists come in from every continent (excluding Antartica).
A short video designed by the Animation Department at SHSU in partnership with the City of Huntsville explained the history behind General Sam Houston and the process its sculptor, David Adickes, implemented to build the statue. As the clip met its end we walked towards “Big Sam” and observed its beauty up close followed by a group picture at the base of the 67-foot statue!
Led by Huntsville expert Professor Yawn, we began our tour around town, seeing outdoor sculptures and attractions along the way.
Driving from the visitor center towards the city, Professor Yawn explained that the Goree Prison Unit had been a women’s unit and also talked about the issues of including inmates and students in Huntsville’s population.
Our first stop was “Made in the Shade” by John Stewart. As our bus driver skillfully maneuvered his way through Fire Station 1’s driveway, we admired the sculpture laying its stone body along Sam Houston Avenue. Stewart sculpted the piece to commemorate the deceased astronauts aboard the Challenger in 1986.
Our next stop was located on University Ave, where we saw a slew of older homes: the Ashford Home (once used a funeral parlor), the Rogers-Baird Home, and the old Smither Warehouse.
We then headed to Oakwood Cemetery. At the cemetery, we viewed the bronze replica of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s “Christus,” popularly known as the “Comforting Christ.”
There are four copies of the sculpture in the United States (that we know of), one of which is rumored to be in a cemetery in San Antonio. The Oakwood Cemetery version was commissioned by the Powell family to honor their youngest son who died at age 5 during a tonsillectomy surgery. We are very thankful that Mark Burns provided copies of a black-and-white photograph of the sculpture for the heART of Huntsville group. It was a memorable experience to see one of the most famous sculptures of Christ dedicated to the youngest son in the Powell family and go home with a special photograph by Mr. Burns.
After the cemetery, it was time to meet for dinner at Carbonero’s a Salvadorian cuisine restaurant where we enjoyed delicious tacos, enchiladas, and pupusas.
As always, the food was phenomenal! But the treats were not only reserved for dinner.
After we finished off our plates, we headed to the David Adickes Foundation. The repurposed Huntsville High School walls and hallways were decorated with Adickes’ breath taking paintings.
Ms. Linda Wiley, the Adickes Foundation curator, welcomed us to the foundation and she and Mr. Adickes offered a brief introduction to the gallery.
With his well known charisma, Mr. Adickes told us tales of his art and his time in the military, a time that he described with “the war was over, it was king of boring.”
But as he told us, his travels to Europe where put to good use as he garnered a passion for painting.
Among the collections we noticed a peculiar photograph of Elvis Presley and his living room. What got our attention were a series of paintings hanging on the corner of the photographed wall. It turns out The King was a fan of Mr. Adickes and had purchased three of his paintings. After Elvis’ death, Mr. Adickes discovered the paintings and bought them back!
After enjoying Mr. Adickes’ adventure travel stories, he joined us in front of his favorite artwork to take a group selfie with the LEAP Ambassadors, former SHSU President Dr. James Gaertner, his wife Nancy Gaertner, and Ms. Wiley.
We were also very lucky to get individual pictures with Mr. Adickes in front of the ambassador’s favorite!
The Adickes Foundation tour was a great way to end our final session of heART of Huntsville. We were all happy to have gotten a chance to enjoy one of Huntsville’s best kept secrets!