If it didn't have its own DART Rail station, few Dallasites would have the faintest clue where the Cedars neighborhood is. Nigel Brown and his 10-foot-tall bowler hat is going to change all that, though.
Just south of downtown Dallas, the Cedars has become a haven for artists and others who enjoy grittier and less-polished surroundings, converted historic buildings, and ample studio space. Brown, who owns Structural Studios at 1506 N. Griffin St. West, is hoping that his two-ton black bowler will become something of a landmark for the area.
"The hat was built by an artist here in the Cedars," Brown said of Keith Turman, who has since relocated to Ohio. "My hope is that, by displaying it in a prominent location, it will bring attention to the neighborhood and all the great artists who live and work here."
Sure, there's the South Side Lamar building and Gilley's Dallas, as well as neighborhood favorite bar Lee Harvey's, but Brown hopes that this hat will be a landmark for the artist community in his neighborhood.
The bowler hat, which in its current terrestrial state is very reminiscent of the now defunct Brown Derby restaurant, wasn't always destined for the lot outside Brown's studio. Turman originally constructed the black bowler hat for the Anglophile Timothy Oulton store near Henderson Avenue and North Central Expressway. When the plan for hefting the hat aloft the store fell through (figuratively, of course), the store donated the hat, which is 20 feet wide, back to the Cedars community.
Final plans include a "coat stand" on which the bowler will perch, making the hat visible from the Interstate 30 canyon and the south side of downtown. With all of the city permits in place, the project is expected to be complete near the end of January.
"Structural Studio contributed a site on Griffin Street with great visibility," said Deborah Brown in a post on Facebook. "KNK Concrete Express provided the foundation, and Tony Collins Art is building the steel tower. Doug Caudill provided the building where the hat was built and arranged its donation. The Cedars Neighborhood Association publicized the sculpture and recruited volunteers."
As far as a name for the sculpture, well, here's hoping it's nothing old hat.