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Mighty big head you’ve got, Mister President

Nothing says “culture” to me quite like giant sculptures of Presidents’ heads.

As the sun played across his great stony countenance, George Washington had the look of a man whose teeth hurt. But if he was pained by his primitive false teeth, that discomfort was lost on 15-year-old Joseph Palmer.

Palmer, a high school student previewing the 42 giant concrete presidential heads that make up Williamsburg’s Presidents Park — set to open today — had more pressing questions.

“Hey mister!” he shouted to the nearest adult. “Wasn’t George Washington the one who chopped down the cherry tree?”

The query brought laughter from his mother and sister and a strained smile from Houston sculptor David Adickes, who has spent eight years bringing the heads, which range from 17 to 20 feet in height, to one of the nation’s most historic spots.


“On the artistic level,” Adickes said, “I want people to marvel at these big heads. How did I get the eyes to look like that? As a sculptor, it makes you proud when people respond with their mouths agape. Second, we’d hope that there is a historical appreciation of each subject and his times.”

What this story doesn’t make very clear is that all of these giant Presidential heads were sculpted right here in Houston, about a mile from my house, as it happens. (Take the Taylor exit off of I-10, turn south towards downtown, and you’ll drive right past Adickes’ place.) One of the items on my To Do list is to take the new digicam over there and snap a few shots before all of the busts have been shipped out. Any locals want in on that with me, drop me a note.

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  1. Ted Barlow says:

    Hell, I’ll go. I’ve got Giant-Presidential-Head Fever!

  2. Mark says:

    I went to Adickes’ place with a friend of mine to shoot pictures of the Presidential heads awhile back. One of the shots I got was of the construction of Dubya’s head. Also, when I was there a bunch of the heads were in tall, untrimmed grass, giving the whole thing a sort of lost civilization-Planet of the Apes look and feel. This is a worthwhile photo shoot.


  3. Kenneth Fair says:

    FYI, Adickes is the sculptor who created the giant statue of Sam Houston that one sees beside I-45 in Huntsville.

    You can see it on the web at the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center site.

  4. I was very disappointed not to see any picture of the heads in the article. If you don’t post giant-president-head pictures, I’ll virtually whap you.

  5. Chris, I promise to post some pictures. I’d hate to be virtually whapped. 🙂

  6. Ah, I just found a link to the picture that was in the print edition. The Chron hides these things sometimes, and there’s no way on their site to search for photos, so you just have to get lucky sometimes.

  7. Rob Humenik says:

    I’m in. Every time Jenn and I go down Taylor/Sawyer, I ask, “Didja see the heads?” After about the twentieth time, she no longer found it amusing. Once all the heads are gone, I will have to resort to pointing out the Mahatman Rice Swami-guy on the Success Rice plant silos across the street. Being an annoying husband is hard work.