Making of the People of the Sun The People of the Sun, Lady of the Pearl sculpture won as a finalist in a 2001 competition for a life-size monument to be installed in Uptown Sedona, Arizona. Above: “People of the Sun, Lady of the Pearl,” shown left, on display with two other finalist sculptures created for a City of Sedona sculpture competition in 2001.Derived from the Yavapai Native American creation epic, Charles and Victoria Oldham designed People of the Sun, Lady of the Pearl as entry to a competition for a life-sized bronze monument to be placed in Uptown Sedona, Arizona in 2001. The theme of the sculpture, as defined in the “Call to Artists” prospectus by the City of Sedona, was to include subject matter depicting or commemorating “the rich history of Sedona Arizona.” The Oldhams thought of the Native Americans who inhabited the area before European settlers. Excited by this idea, they met with leaders of the Yavapai Nation in Clarkdale, Arizona to hear the wonderful creation narrative that would inspire their sculpture. Next, Victoria created a detailed drawing of the concept: the First Lady, the Lady of the Pearl, travels to the top of Mingus Mountain. She is the only survivor of a “Great Flood,” similar to the Biblical flood of Christianity. Atop the mountain, she meets the Sun; afterward, she returns to bathe in a sacred spring in Boynton Canyon, Sedona. From these encounters come all Sedona’s first people.Shortly after delivering the concept drawing, disturbing claims began to surface, including that there was already a heated controversy over the plan for a life-size sculpture for Uptown Sedona. There were assertions that a winning sculpture had already been chosen long before the City of Sedona’s “Call to Artists.” As a result, the City assigned independent judges, noted art professionals outside of Sedona, to the task of selecting three finalists from a nationwide submission process. Oldham’s People of the Sun sculpture became one of the three finalists.Shockingly, we heard directly from a member of the City’s selection committee who claimed that one of the three finalist sculptures publicly announced was actually switched out from one that was chosen by the art professional judges! We will never really know the truth.It was now time for the finalist sculptors to create minature versions of their sculpture idea, the stage referred to as the “maquette.” They had only three weeks to complete the work. These miniature versions of the sculptures are shown above. (Remember, the goal was to communicate the idea a life size monument, so it was important, even at this small size, to render as much detail as possible in order to fully express the idea.) The winner was to be selected by public vote among residents of Sedona and the nearby Village of Oak Creek. As it turned out, the winning sculpture, already the talk of the town prior to the contest, was the cowboy depicting popular Sedona resident and accomplished sculptor, Joe Beeler. Now for the backstory: We learned what happened in bits and pieces over time. At first, it was Joe Beeler himself who would create a sculpture monument for Uptown Sedona, with City of Sedona funds. However, this drew vigorous complaints accusing the City of awarding a major contract without competitive bidding. The issue rose to the level of scandal; this is why it was decided there would be a “competition,” and another resident sculptor would create the life-size bronze—a portrait of sculptor Joe Beeler! In the end, the People of the Sun was considered a true masterpiece by art professionals, sculptors, and gallery owners, although it would not be selected as the winner in the competition. It is my hope that someday this sculpture can be realized, and installed as a life-sized bronze monument in Sedona, as it was first intended. 2 replies on “Making of the People of the Sun” Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of info on your site. Im really impressed by your blog. Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and individually recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this web site. LikeLike Hi Lesley, Thank you so much for your kind reply. I’ve just got this website up and running after many years where it was offline. Will be adding lots of new images to the gallery. Best wishes to you. LikeLike Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here... 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