Regarding the concrete figures arranged across the yard of the late B.G. (“Gene”) Cockrell, the artist reportedly claimed that they are simply things that he saw that he then wanted to build.
That modest self-assessment may be entirely true but it fails to express what a keen eye Cockrell had for the iconic. Dinosaurs, Native Americans, Jesus, mythical creatures, extra-terrestrials, an American Bison; the two dozen sculptures are all instantly recognizable as part of contemporary culture.
At one time, his most well-known creation was a cowgirl attired only in boots and hat and holding a rope. It reflects a double standard for women and men but naked ladies are also in the portfolio of images we collectively share. Cockrell’s wife Audrey made him clothe the cowgirl, who now stands chastely to the right of two Native Americans on horseback.
Cockrell began fashioning his creations in the early 1990s after retiring from the highway department. The sculptures are constructed from steel and concrete and the evident skill Cockrell developed on the job.
The largest work is a one-ton, 50-foot long, 17-foot tall dinosaur on a hilltop south of town. Cockrell named the figure “Aud,” for his wife, and her obituary called the concrete creature “a standing memorial of their love.”
Audrey died in 2019 and Gene predeceased her by six years. Although the artist is no longer with us, his artwork remains and is well-maintained (and dressed, as the case may be).
Know Before You Go
The collection of concrete figures is on both sides of Christy Lane, to the west of the Cockrells’ former home. Visitors can park on the side street, off of the main road. Please look at the sculptures from the road unless invited on to the property. Do not climb on the artwork under any circumstance.
The road leading to Aud is gated but “she” is visible from US 60/US 83. The big green dinosaur is on a bluff east of the highway about six miles south of Canadian, or 2.5 miles north of where the two U.S. Highways merge.