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Feb 14

True Mysteries

Posted on February 14, 2022 at 10:08 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

Do you love a good mystery as much as I do? I’m in the process of compiling a database of public art that includes the who, why, what, how, and when of all the city’s public art pieces. I’m happy to say that most of the pieces in the city’s collection have some documentation that tells its story. But… some are mysteries that need to be solved… and I love solving mysteries!

One such mystery piece is a sculpture located near Fire Station #4 in the Gus Vlachakis Park located near the corner of Missouri and Telshor Avenues. There is no plaque identifying its origin and the normal channels were turning up zilch. The sculpture depicts an adult figure standing with outstretched arms reaching for a child figure who is balanced on a frame structure that looks like a doorway. The sculpture is made of concrete and metal and entirely painted in white. Its condition tells me it has been there for a long period of time. 

The piece itself is interesting in its ambiguity of what is happening; is the adult figure a fireman saving a child (considering its proximity to the fire station) or is it a parent playing with the child on a playground apparatus in the park? Is the meaning related to something more existential between adults and children? The beauty of public art is that the interpretation is often left to capture the imagination of the beholder. But for my intents and purposes, I want to know for sure. 

Gus Vlachkis Park Sculpture of adult figure reaching up to child figure balanced on frame.

After admitting to myself that I was stumped, I happened by chance to see a colleague of mine, who works for the Parks & Recreation Department. It occurred to me she might know something, but alas, she didn’t. (Or so she thought.) After chatting a bit, we went our separate ways. A few hours later, I received a phone call from her saying “I may have some information for you.” My friend had looked in the park file and found an old scan of an invitation to the dedication of this sculpture. Finally, I had a clue!

Scan of typed "The Rescue" Dedication Note

The name of the sculpture is “The Rescue” (it seems my first interpretation was right) by artist Felix Carrion. It was dedicated on July 22, 1988. Rather than being satisfied by this bit of information, it fed my fixation on this piece. Now, I want more details – who commissioned this piece? Why? Did it mean something to Dr. Carrion? (I now know the artist currently lives in El Paso and is a practicing psychologist.) We are getting closer to completing the true story of “The Rescue” coming to be part of Gus Vlachakis Park and the public art collection. The good news for me - there are more mysteries surrounding our art pieces to solve. Stay tuned for more. 

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