Unboxing history: Bill Pickett immortalized in downtown Taylor

A local legend finally took his place in Taylor Friday, when a bronze statue of Bill Pickett was unveiled.

“Seeing a statue done in Ft. Worth almost 30 years ago to finally seeing one done in Taylor, it’s a long time coming,” said Gerald Anderson, Pickett’s great nephew. “I’m happy to finally see Bill Pickett come home.”

Judy Blundell, who co-owns the McCrory Timmerman building with Mark Nibblelink, helped commission the statute to be placed in downtown. As an artist, she notices the lack of public art in Taylor.

Blundell worked with Anderson, and said he helped educate her on Pickett’s legacy.

“I thought Bill Pickett, even though he was renowned, I’m sure he lived on the edge of death and destruction everyday of his life,” Blundell said. “Bill Pickett has a lot of character, and I was really interested in him.”

Blundell said the downtown area where HWY 79 meets HWY 95 has a “convergence of energy,” and believes Pickett was someone who defines energy.

“It’s great to see that people will be able to appreciate Bill Pickett and come to see some fine local art and recognize a local hero at the same time,” Anderson said. “My grandmother started this years ago, but she was never able to accomplish the things we were able to accomplish. The majority of the credit still goes to her for putting the fire in me to keep working.”

Blundell called on another local artist, Adam Davenport, to make the statue. Davenport said it took about a year from beginning to end of the process for the statue.

He said it took about eight months for the clay foundation, and then it spent four months at the foundry in Houston.

“This is really a historical piece more than anything,” Davenport said.

With a painting background, Davenport said he combined his skills in art to create the statue.

“It’s like I’m literally sculpting the form out instead of making the illusion with paint,” he said. “Being a portrait painter, it lent really heavy into doing Bill Pickett as a portrait and making a likeness was important. Everything from the stance of him to the rope and the hat, and keeping all of those historic facts true to what he was in this iconic picture.”

Davenport paid attention to details such as the style of rope and facial features.

“I’m very honored to be able to put something like that downtown for the city,” he said.

Blundell said there have been questions about the placement, but the statue is part of a private art collection that is being shared.

“He is privately funded and owned. We’ll share him openly with the community, but he will remain on private property,” she said. “He’s there for everybody, but he’s part of a private enterprise.”

She said the city is not in the position to fund this type of art, which can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. Blundell also mentioned that if the statue were placed in Heritage Square, it would have to be moved once construction begins on the re-development.

Blundell said the statue is not just a piece of art, but a piece of history. She is glad to see the statue in the downtown area.

“I want people to see a man first, and then realize it’s a bronze statue and a memorial,” she said.

Anderson said this is a way to keep Pickett’s name relevant in Taylor, and people will realize how important he was to local and rodeo history.

When the statue arrived in Taylor, Blundell drove the piece by his land where his home still stands.

“He’s part of the community and Gerald is very much part of the community, so that’s just good ambassadorship,” Blundell said.