Culture News

Scottsdale Public Art Reveals Cost for Giant White Rabbit Sculpture

Here's a rendering showing two views of Tempe artist John Randall Nelson's giant rabbit design.
Here's a rendering showing two views of Tempe artist John Randall Nelson's giant rabbit design. Scottsdale Public Art
It’s been nearly two years since Scottsdale residents got a sneak peek at Tempe artist John Randall Nelson’s giant rabbit sculpture. Now, they’re watching it come together on the northwest corner of Indian School Road and Marshall Way.

There’s been controversy surrounding the piece, in terms of both aesthetics and cost. Turns out, the project cost more than expected, in part because it replaced an earlier artwork planned for the space that wouldn’t work in that particular location.

“The total cost of the sculpture is a bit different than the total cost of the project,” Kevin Vaughan-Brubaker wrote in an August 2 email to Phoenix New Times. He’s the public art manager for Scottsdale Public Art.

“City Council originally funded the project at $150,000,” he wrote. “We’ve had to add funds from the Downtown Cultural Trust to the project to cover some costs.”

The project originated several years ago, in response to Old Town merchant requests that the City Council find additional ways to draw people to the area, including a sizable public art work.

The artist selection process, centered around a public call for art, cost $6,670. Miami-based R & R Studios was paid $17,000 to design the original project, which has since been scrapped and replaced with Nelson’s piece. Another $10,000 went toward other costs, including city staff time.

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Getting a closer look at John Randall Nelson's design.
John Randall Nelson
Nelson was paid $10,000 for his design, which comprises a white, 26-foot-tall jackrabbit set atop a forward-sloping base.

Scottsdale Public Art broke ground on the sculpture in late July, starting with the concrete base that will take about a month to cure before the rabbit gets placed on top.

Ironically, it's being installed amid Marshall Way's ongoing transformation from arts district to retail hub.

The target date for completion is Friday, August 31.

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Here's One-Eyed Jack during fabrication.
John Randall Nelson
Of course, creating the sculpture, comprising flat, interlocking pieces of cut steel, cost far more than $10,000.

Nelson’s fabrication and installation contract was for $114,583. Most of that has gone to R. J Ruff and Progressive Hardscapes, the companies fabricating Nelson’s design, Vaughan-Brubaker says.

Additional costs for realizing One-Eyed Jack include engineering ($3,300), special inspections ($1,000), traffic barricades ($1,300), and landscaping ($1,500).

The sculpture will be illuminated at night, so electricity costs totaling $8,000 are also part of the mix.

Other costs include permits ($500), printing ($500), and creating a plaque ($600) that will be installed with the piece.

Of course, there are project management costs as well, although Vaughan-Brubaker hasn’t put a figure on the cost of his own time for this public art project.

Although the project is slated for completion at the end of August, Scottsdale Public Art is targeting Thursday, October 25, for the formal opening celebration, to coincide for the opening of another Scottsdale Public Art project called "Local Light."
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble