Great News: Mercantile Art to be Saved

After fearing that the wonderful mosaics in the Mercantile would be lost to the wrecking ball, I am pleased to report that developer Tim Headington of Headington Oil has agreed to pay for the removal of all of the mosaics in the Mercantile Complex and to display them in a public location in Downtown Dallas.

I met yesterday for a couple of hours with Tim, Craig Melde and Jay Firsching from Architexas, and conservator Michael van Enter, who will be removing the art. Tim is very enthusiastic about the art, and wants to keep the art together as a collection if possible. Craig Melde will be coordinating the project with Forest City and Headington.

The ultimate location for the art has not been determined, other than it will be in Downtown Dallas in a public location. Tim Headington is exploring the possibility of placing the art in a single location so it can be viewed as a collection.

I’m also working to make sure that, if for some reason the art is sold and the owner wants to take it out of public display in Downtown, the City of Dallas has the option to take the art for the cost of removing it from wherever it is located at that time. This will not obligate the City to take the art, but will give the City the option to do so.

The removal of the art will not slow down the renovations and demolition of the Mercantile complex. The parties have agreed to work around Forest City’s timetable. I spoke with David Levey from Forest City earlier today, and he is very excited that we were able to save the art.

I could not be happier about this outcome. We owe a debt of gratitude to Tim Headington for his generosity to our city. By saving this collection of artwork, he is ensuring that future generations will be able to appreciate and enjoy this important piece of Dallas’ history.

Michael van Enter and Studio van Enter are also to be commended for taking on such a big task so quickly. Michael and his partner Wes have been working around the clock this past week to determine the cost of extracting the art. Despite working long days and putting other projects on hold, Michael and his firm have agreed to donate their long days and nights of survey time (which they had deeply discounted anyway) if they are selected to extricate the mosaics.

Craig and Jay from Architexas have also done an exceptional job of helping to make sure we saved this art. This would not have happened without their perseverance, and they are continuing to coordinate this project without payment. We could not have done this without them.

Lastly, a big thank you to everyone else who kept this story in the news and gently persuaded the parties to do what is right. I am certain that without that influence, we would have lost this art, either to the wrecking ball or to private collectors who would have taken it out of our city and out of the public domain. Now the art will remain in its home, Downtown Dallas, for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

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