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The Traveling Man, A Dallas Icon

There are lots of stories to tell about how and why a trio of larger-than-life sculptures arrived in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas. And I'll get to those stories before too long.

But for now, you should know that they were destined to be iconic. Dreamed up by Brandon Oldenburg and brought to life by Dallas artist Brad Oldham, the sculptures were unveiled in the summer of 2009.

Since that time, Walking Tall (pictured at right) is an essential element in any visual collection of "Dallas" things. This robot with a guitar-shaped head is by itself a great reason to visit Deep Ellum. But if you can't get there, right away, you can enjoy a look right here.

I'll show you the other lesser-known pieces as well. If you'd like to know more about the story behind the art, I've shared some links in the "deeper dive" section below. I'll leave those links here until I put the whole story into my own words.

Awakening is chronologically the first work in the series, and it's also the smallest. It's very easy to overlook among all the restaurants and bars and murals in the area.

As the story goes, our robot's "parents" were a splash of gin and an elm tree root. This scene is where he comes to life and emerges from the ground.
The next work in the series, Waiting on the Train, is  a larger-scale work, but it's more approachable since the giant robot is seated. As in the other two works, his little bird friend is never far away.

The Traveling Man Makes the Dallas Scene

The Walking Tall sculpture is 38 feet tall, and in the final story of the series, our robot is on the move. Because of the placement of the statue, and because it's so large, what's in the background will vary. You'll see photographs featuring the Dallas skyline or a popular mural or the nearby DART station, depending on the vantage point of the photographer.

Get Your Instagram Selfies Here

The Traveling Man is a perfect backdrop for a selfie, and creativity is encouraged. As you can see, you don't even have to be a person to get a cool selfie with the Dallas celebrity robot.

Artists Picture Their Own Versions of The Traveling Man

Just about any mural that features symbols of Dallas includes the Walking Tall version of our robot. A few feature the Waiting on a Train version instead. But as you'll see here, murals aren't the only canvas this fella's been captured on. I've curated a fun set of images from Instagram that all pay tribute to The Traveling Man.

Deeper Dive: Learn More About The Traveling Man

There's so much to tell in the story of this amazing public art. I'm working on the full story and more about the artist now. Till then, if you'd like to read more about the concept behind the works, this Dallas Observer article does the job well.

This blurb on Art and Seek explains why the sculpture represents Dallas and especially the Deep Ellum neighborhood so well.

For more cool pics and fun facts, see this Facebook page.


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