It's been six years since Turlock native and television personality Narsai David has attempted to place a 9-foot bronze statue of Queen Shamiram on Turlock grounds. Since then, David has been met with confusing mixed messages by California State University, Stanislaus about placing the statue on its campus, and has found little ground for placing the statue anywhere else in Turlock.
The Queen Shamiram Statue Location Subcommittee, comprised of Larry Yeakel, Lew Boyle, Bella Daniel, and Andrew Davoodian, have banded together to help avoid further conflict over the statue's location and set out to help David’s long held dream become reality.
Last month, the committee discussed seven sites that would be appropriate for the statue, but ultimately agreed on five choices to put before the public.
The subcommittee is still holding out for its top location, however, known as Plan A, which would be located at CSU Stanislaus. Plan B sites include the Public Safety Center, the Assyrian American Civic Club, the Senior Center, and the Carnegie Arts Center.
“We described and talked about every possible outcome and location in Turlock,” Davoodian said at Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. “We will be looking at a city map to see more parcels.”
In the meantime, Davoodian has been in contact with CSU Stanislaus President Joseph Sheley, and believes that fighting for a spot on the campus is worth the effort.
“[President Sheley’s] words were: ‘It is still open.’ That is the pro. The con was that they would need to establish a process or protocol that would allow the work on campus,” said Davoodian.
Earlier this year, CSU Stanislaus Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Dave Tonelli stated that artwork would need to be discussed under a university policy; a policy that the university is still developing at this time. According to Sheley, the process may take an additional two years to implement.
“We have three options,” Davoodian said. “One: We wait two years and give the university a shot; two would be to forget about the university and find a place now; three, to place it in the city, but make it optional to move it to the college after the years are up.”
Despite the fact that the university seems less than willing to take the statue, David continues to insist that the campus is the right spot for Queen Shamiram. A museum in Chicago and the Assyrian Universal Alliance both expressed a desire to host the statue at the Assyrian Cultural Center, but was turned down by both David and the City of Turlock.
“Mr. David did not want to limit the number of people who will see the statue,” said Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erik Schulze. "He wants it to be near a park setting, and doesn’t want the statue to be representing just Assyrians. He thinks everyone should enjoy it as a work of art.”
For this reason, David decided that he would prefer the statue to not be associated with the Assyrian American Civic Club, and to have that removed from the list of locations.
According the Schulze, the Public Safety Center also has a piece of public art that is set to be placed there, and so that site will no longer be in consideration for the statue of Queen Shamiram.
That limits Plan B down to two immediate choices, the Senior Center and the Carnegie Arts Center.
“Given the new information you have received, it may be best to explore other options,” said City Division Manager Allison Van Guilder to the subcommittee members at Wednesday's meeting.
The board further expressed that they would like to get the community involved in the decision making process, and are still interested in revising the list of locations. Any interest in having the statue at CSU Stanislaus should be directed to the university, and not the board.