Notes on the Naked Trike Angel

Most of my books take place in or around the town of Cornersville Trace, a made-up suburb of Des Moines. One of the fun things about having multiple books take place there is showing the wildly different ways that different characters perceive the town. Leon likes the old part of town, but hates the new subdivisons and strip malls and thinks the whole town is sort of a dump compared to the big city. To Jennifer Van den Berg, who lives in a smaller town a few miles North, Cornersville Trace IS the big city. And to Andrew North, the town is full of mystery and wonder.
At Merle Hay Mall, just outside of Des Moines, there used to be bronze statue of a life-sized naked guy with angel wings riding a tricycle. right in the middle of the main walkway. It was built for the mall by Mark Jacobsen in 1974, and was called "Up Down." If you looked closely at his legs, there were pipes coming out of him, like the guy had plumbing inside of him. Growing up in Des Moines, I never thought twice about the thing - it had just always been there.
But years later, during the time I was writing Andrew North Blows Up the World, I found myself driving through Des Moines and trying to describe the thing to a friend. "Man," I thought, "what would Andrew North make of that statue?"

One of the reasons that I opted for a made-up suburb instead of a real one was so that I wouldn't be bound by reality; the statue was taken out of Merle Hay Mall in the 1990s, but it can still be at the mall in Cornersville Trace! Since then, I've written it into many of my projects. To paraphrase the Beatles, the naked trike angel looms large in my legend.

Are there weird statues at YOUR mall?Send a picture! I'll create a gallery of weird mall art. Did these statues just prove that people in the 1970s were somewhat disturbed, or are they secret entrances to spy headquarters hiding in plain sight?

Take a look at the thing - it's no wonder I grew up to be such a weirdo!

Photos courtesy of Merle Hay Mall


Anonymous said...

I sure would love to know where Up Down ended up. I have seen pictures of him sitting in amongst a bed of flowers a blogger from Minnesota took. I hear rumors he is in east Des Moines privately owned and that person prefers to remain unknown. I am not going to ever claim to be a person of the arts, but I sure liked seeing the statue and did miss it when it disappeared.

Adam Selzer said...

Yes, it is in east Des Moines. If you throw me a line with your email I can forward it to her; she often does like to share it!

albina N muro said...

try this~! angel workshops

Adam's New Book: Sept 2013