A mysterious cephalopod-headed statue popped up in Pioneer Park Cemetery near the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Monday. Security cameras in the park revealed the statue arrived around 10:30 am with the help of four individuals who have yet to be identified.
The statue appears to be made from clay and features a woman’s body with the head of an octopus, standing on a pile of bones.
A plaque below the sculpture with the title, “Solomon,” possibly the name of the creator, describes the piece as a “portrait” of Dallas pioneer Sarah Horton Cockrell. Known as “one of the founders of our city” and the city’s first capitalist, Cockrell was an entrepreneur and businesswoman famously known for constructing a suspension toll bridge that connected all major Dallas roads south and west.
The statue was placed in the same location where the Confederate War Memorial once stood before city officials removed it in June 2020. The plaque read:
“If Sarah Horton Cockrell did encounter Dallas’s true namesake on her 33rd birthday, how did she walk away with her selfhood in tact [sic]? Why her? Why that night at that crossing of that particular bend of the Trinity? The facts paint little in the way of an answer: afterward she declined to sleep, wandering the darkened city she largely owned, inventing new ways to profit from thresholds. Was her wealth then hers by fate or by compulsion? Maybe our city’s love/hate relationship with tolls was born that night, rippling out beyond the levies of her destiny. Her Trinity Toll Bridge still calling in Sarah’s debts on another plane, a taller, more enduring memorial than any our city’s other daughters have built. If so, well, hail Sarah, daughter of unnameable monarchs, hand commanding the pursuit of eternity.”
The plaque also said “City of Dallas,” underneath the city’s official logo and three symbols that one Twitter user identified as shorthand for numerals used by Cistercian monks. The symbols translate into the numbers 972, 588, 4762, which is a local Dallas phone number. When called, an inaudible message plays.
The plaque is dated 2024 and notes the sculpture is a gift from T. Boone Pickens, a wealthy businessman and chairman of hedge fund BP Capital Management, who passed away in 2019.
Ironically, this isn’t the first time a cephalopod-headed statue has mysteriously appeared in Dallas. In 2019 a similar figure allegedly crafted by “Solomon” appeared underneath the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
The statue’s plaque was dated 1877 and claimed it was a “self-portrait” of City of Dallas founder John Neely Bryan. The figure featured a man’s body in a business suit, with the head of a cephalopod.
It, too, had a cryptic description; inscribed on the plaque was a message that read like Bryan’s bio:
“Confined in his last days to an insane asylum in Austin, no one knows what final confusions the founding father of Dallas confronted before his death. Did the lines between selfhood and otherhood blur completely? Did fesh confate with metal, the eternal with the temporal, the mammal with the cephalopod? Is the city he began a city in fact or only in shared delusion?”
That sculpture was quickly removed by the City of Dallas, citing it as a “public safety hazard.” Local journalist and founder of Central Track.com, Pete Freedman, detailed on his website what happened after he reported on the strange events following the removal of the Bryan statue. The appearance of this new cephalopod-headed statue has thrown him for a loop.
“And back down the rabbit hole I go,” tweeted Freeman.
Like the Bryan statue, the Cockrell sculpture has been uprooted and taken to the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture. As of the publishing of this article, no one has claimed either statue, so it seems we have a Banksy-type among us. Or maybe it really is a representative of a Cephalopod-headed community that lives beneath the city, who has come to remind us of those who came before us.