The search to find a permanent home for a 9-foot bronze statue of an ancient Assyrian ruler may soon come to an end thanks to the efforts of the Queen Shamiram Statue Location Subcommittee, compromised of two members from the Turlock Parks and Recreation Commission and three members of the Arts Commission.
The subcommittee banded together last month after California State University, Stanislaus refused to host the statue on its premises. Though the university appreciated the offer and recognition, it was unable to accept the statue due to a discussion regarding university policies and plans of art placement on campus, said CSU Stanislaus Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Dave Tonelli.
“Both committees unanimously agree that CSU, Stanislaus continues to be the most highly recommended option,” said Commissioner Andrew Davoodian at Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation meeting. “We are trying to meet with the president at CSU Stanislaus, but we have set up a number of options.”
Seven options were presented to the commission, each of which hosted a number of concerns about walk-by traffic, graffiti, and maintaining the integrity of the statue. Possible locations included: Senior Citizen’s Center, Donnelly Park, Transit Center, the corner of Colorado and Canal, Gettysburg Park, Broadway and Olive (just in front of the new Public Safety Center), and Centennial Park.
Statue donor Narsai David is skeptical of some of the locations, and said he is interested in being part of the selection committee after returning from San Francisco. The subcommittee and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erik Schulze mentioned that once the choices are limited to three or four options, they will contact David.
Though proposals were made to place the statue near the Assyrian- Christian church, Davoodian, a lecturer at UC Berkeley on Modern Assyrian Culture, suggests there may be cultural implications associated with the statue since Queen Shamiram represents a pre-Christian figure.
“This is not the final list,” Davoodian said. “This is a first draft. Our proposal is based on about 95 percent of the comments we made. We just want to make the right decision. We believe it is important for the community to be involved.”
Turlock native and member of the Assyrian Civic Club Yooash Stepans extended his thanks to Commissioners Bella Daniel and Davoodian for their efforts in finding the statue a home, and even offered a location up for consideration.
“Since we have a large number of Assyrians living in Turlock, this is good timing for a piece of Assyrian history to be in Turlock. This statue should be in a place that is more visible to a large form of people so that they can appreciate it. A lot of work has been done, and we want people to see it,” said Stepans. “I think maybe we should put it next to the sign off Fulkerth and Golden State.”
Parks Commission Chair Barney Gordon said he was happy to see that the subcommittee is working diligently to relay information and secure a location, but wanted to make sure all possible options were considered.
“I know that the community is anxious to get it out there, but we don’t want to make a rash decision. If we can identify next month a place to hold a public hearing, that would be great,” Gordon said.