The environmental sculpture known as Caelum Moor has a long history in Arlington, Texas. The 5-acre work of art, created by sculptor Norm Hines, Professor of Art at Pomona College in Claremont, California, includes five groups of granite monuments set in a landscape. The sculpture is designed to provide an attractive and engaging environment for the public - a place to gather, to observe and reflect, to be refreshed, to enjoy the blending of nature and art.

click to enlargeNorm Hines was a professor of art at Pomona College in Claremont, California, in 1984 when he was commissioned by Jane Mathes Kelton to create the environmental work of art that came to be known as Caelum Moor. Kelton was a resident of Arlington and the CEO of the Kelton Mathes Development Corporation. The sculpture was originally designed as the centerpiece of The Highlands development in south Arlington and it was completed and dedicated in 1986. Caelum Moor was named and designed with reference to megalithic monuments. Kelton, whose ancestry was Scottish and who was drawn to the ancient sites found throughout the British Isles, made the Scottish design request in her commission of the artwork. The Caelum Moor commission took two years to complete and cost $1.5 million to construct. The completed work of art, which included a park that Hines also designed, was later appraised at more than $3 million. The sculpture is comprised of five individual groups of stones, each with its own Celtic name within a landscaped setting.


 
   

The name “Caelum” is derived from a constellation in the southern skies known as the “sculptor's tool”. “Moor” refers to the windswept landscapes common to ancient sites. The Celtic titles of each of the five granite monuments - Tolmen Barrow, Tan Tara, Morna Linn, Sarsen Caer and De'Danaan - further reflect the Scottish heritage. The stone monuments ranging in height from 8 to 30 feet, and weighing a total of more than 540 tons, have however no celestial connection.

click to enlargeWhile the stone groups are reminiscent of the forms of ancient monoliths, they diverge in important ways. Each group is unique, offering carved details designed to encourage visitors to approach and engage the polished surfaces. Tolmen Barrow, for instance, has a hole cut through its central stone. On the inner surfaces of Tan Tara, two polished, concave, circles produce the effect of an echo chamber. Morna Linn incorporates water, adding the element of sound to a contemplative environment. Throughout the sculpture, there are abstract patterns, carved and polished, that can be explored with the fingers as well as the eyes.

From 1986 to 1997, Caelum Moor was located at the headwaters of Johnson Creek along Interstate 20 in south Arlington. For more than a decade, Caelum Moor served as a popular gathering place for individuals and families, and as the site of major public events such as the Highland Games. In 1997, the land occupied by the sculpture was sold for redevelopment. As a result, the 22 stones comprising the five monuments were donated to the City of Arlington by WindStar Properties. For the next 12 years, the stones were stored at the Pierce Burch Water Treatment Facility.

In 2009, thanks to revenue generated from the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, Caelum Moor was reinstalled in Richard Greene Linear Park in a new configuration designed by the sculpture artist, Norm Hines. With its relocation in north Arlington, Caelum Moor once again have the opportunity to provide an attractive and engaging environment for the public to gather, to observe and reflect, to be refreshed and to enjoy the blending of nature and art. Read the press release

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The first piece is called Tolmen Barrow. All of the Caelum Moor pieces have a Celtic-inspired name because the person who commissioned the artwork in 1984, Jane Mathes Kelton, was of Scottish heritage, and wanted the art to reflect Celtic history. The artist, Norm Hines, studied the ancient stone groupings in Great Britain called megalithic monuments for inspiration.

Tolmen means hole stone, literally, a stone with a hole. There are many famous tolmens in Great Britain. It was once believed a person who passed through the hole of a tolmen would be healed of illness or purified. Barrow is a term sometimes used in Britain to mean mountain or hill, but it also refers to a sacred site like a burial mound. The ribbon symbol carved here suggests the concept that there is no beginning and no end to anything in life. It also resembles the symbol called triquetra. The triquetra appears in many religions. In Christian symbology it stands for the Holy Trinity, but it can also refer to life, death and rebirth – the cycle of life; earth, air and water – the elements of nature; maiden, mother and crone. Feel free to touch the stones and trace your fingers over the Celtic symbols carved on some of the pieces. The pathways that weave around the sculptures are meant to encourage you to discover the pieces, to contemplate them up close. They are not meant to be viewed from afar.

This sculpture also has signatures etched on the foundation under the stones – those of the current City of Arlington council members and staff who signed it when it was re-installed in June of 2009.

Walk south towards the street and follow the sidewalk along Randol Mill Road to the next grouping.

Tan Tara is the tallest of the five structures and stands at 34 feet. No, it is not named for Scarlett O’Hara’s plantation. Tara is the name the ancient Celts gave the home of their gods, and tan means fire. Tan Tara is a natural echo chamber where only the person standing between the pillars can hear the echo. The concave circles that make the echo possible may also refer to the idea of eternity, because a circle has no beginning and no end. Tan Tara also has a rope pattern that you’ll see carved in other pieces in Caelum Moor, as if the pieces are tied together.

At this point you get a great view of Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. It is the world’s largest enclosed NFL stadium. It can hold 80,000 to 100,000 people, depending on the seating configuration. It officially opened on June 6, 2009, with a concert by George Strait. The retractable roof, the largest of its kind in the world at 660,800 square feet, is meant to remind fans of the unique open roof of the Cowboys former home in Irving. The final cost to build the stadium was over $1 billion. The Dallas Cowboys are the country’s most-watched NFL team and the second most profitable professional sports franchise in the world, second only to England’s Manchester United Football (soccer) Club.

Walk west on Randol Mill towards the AT&T Stadium. Turn right before the bridge to follow the path along the creek to the next grouping.

These three freestanding stones set in a triangular pattern are De’Danaan. De’Danann refers to the Tuatha De’ Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland according to Celtic mythology. In popular legend, they have been linked to the numerous fairies rumored to inhabit the Irish landscape. There is a labyrinth carved on the inside of each stone. Labyrinths are symbols in many ancient cultures, but they are most often associated with meditation, which contributes to the artist’s intent to create a place for reflection.

Caelum Moor originally was installed at the headwaters of Johnson Creek near I-20 and Matlock where Lowe’s is located today. Jane Mathes Kelton, who commissioned the artwork, intended to build an office park in that area. In designing Caelum Moor, Norm Hines, who was an art teacher at Pomona College in California, intended to create a “quiet, meditative space adjacent to what was to be a busy hub, a place where people could relax, wander, explore and have some contact with nature.” In this new location, the same theory applies. Caelum Moor is a respite from the activity of the Entertainment District.

The waterway you’re standing along is called Johnson Creek. The park around it is Richard Greene Linear Park. It’s called a linear park because it is much longer than it is wide and uses public land along the creek. The park features a 1.35 mile lighted trail loop, a pedestrian bridge and more than 2,000 trees, 1,500 shrubs and 15,000 native plants. The park, named for Arlington’s mayor from 1987 to 1997, and Caelum Moor are part of a larger project, authorized by Congress, for the environmental restoration, flood control and erosion protection of the Johnson Creek water shed.

Continue along the path to the next grouping.

This piece, Sarsen Caer, is lit up from the bottom at night. Sarsen is the name of the sandstone blocks found throughout southern England, including Stonehenge. Caer means castle or fortress in the Welsh language. This one also has the rope pattern that we already saw on Tan Tara. Although Caelum Moor probably reminds you of Stonehenge, the artist has said it is in no way intended to be a reflection or recreation of the ancient site. It does not represent a constellation and has no religious overtones whatsoever. The stones are made of granite, and unlike the granite you pick out for your kitchen counters, Hines looked for pieces with varying color and imperfections to reflect the imperfection of man. He then used a blowtorch to give the finished stones a weathered look.

Walk towards the pond.

The pond you see in front of you is called Holtz Pond. It is named for former Texas Rangers announcer Mark Holtz. The Texas Rangers were formed in 1972 when the Washington Senators moved from D.C. They played in a former minor league stadium adjacent to the Arlington Convention Center until 1994, when the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington opened with 49,115 seats.

Mayor Richard Greene was instrumental in developing a public-private partnership with the Texas Rangers Baseball Club that resulted in the new Rangers Stadium. The Ballpark at Arlington cost $191 million to build and included additional features such as a baseball museum, a children’s learning center, a four-story office building, a youth baseball park, and a 12-acre lake. The Ballpark is one of the hottest baseball fields in the major league, which is one of the reasons all their games are played at night between May and September.

Walk to the stone seating area facing of the pond.

The waterfall sculpture in Holtz Pond is Morna Linn. It is also lit up at night. Morna means beloved, and Linn means waterfall. In order to install it in the lake, a temporary peninsula was built out to the point where Morna Linn stands and then removed after installation. At the bottom of the sculpture the initials R.G. are carved in the granite, put there by former mayor Richard Greene. His wife, Sylvia, was a member of a group called the Arlington Foundation for the Arts during the time the sculptures were being carved. This group traveled to Marble Falls to see the progress of the work, and Hines let them use his tools to carve their initials in the piece. The link between technology and nature extended even to the production of the sculptures, which were made from natural materials and took a natural shape, but were created with power tools.

Caelum Moor was at its original location in south Arlington from 1986 to 1997. The first Arlington Scottish Games were held there before being relocated to UTA. However, the office park that was supposed to be built around it never materialized. The land was sold and the artwork was donated to the City. However, the high cost of moving the pieces - just short of $1,000,000 - meant they have been in storage since then. The relocation and installation to Richard Greene Linear Park was made possible thanks to monetary donations and revenue generated from a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Norm Hines also contributed to the new park design and placement of the stones.

The new location, if not exactly to Hines’ original idea, still fulfills the original intention. Hines wanted to create art that symbolizes man’s connection with the universe and to connect the past with the technological future – to remind us of earth when we’re surrounded by steel and glass. Now that it sits in the shadow of the thoroughly modern AT&T Stadium, it certainly serves the same purpose. The living humanistic form of the sculpture juxtaposed with the high-tech structures around it creates a reflective atmosphere. Hines said in a documentary about Caelum Moor that “People cannot live in technology alone. The soul cries out for something that touches you more deeply.”

You are encouraged to sit and view Morna Linn for a few moments.

 
 

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