The Giant Tiki Has Risen!by Charles Spillar on Jul. 14, 2009, under arts, Tucson Art
For centuries people have wondered how the giant Moais from Eastern Island were moved about the island. This morning on 4th Ave. a few people witnessed how it would be done today. The 55,000-pound Tiki head from the closed Magic Carpet was today lifted from its resting place and placed on top of its new steel structural foundation.
The head, of what the Magic Carpet called Stone Face, was transported to the parking lot of The Hut on 4th Ave. & 8th St. December 23. It has been resting quietly there while the operators of The Hut raised the necessary funds to rebuild the steel base (to meet new City guidelines) and to pay the crane and construction costs. Totally they have committed over $60,000 to rescue this Tucson icon for future generations. The statue was originally created by the late Lee Koplin of Magic Carpet Golf fame in approximately 1971.
If you go by The Hut you will not be able to see the Tiki since the erection onto its new foundation this morning. The head has been wrapped awaiting the new artistic base presently in process. It will be completed on location in the next few weeks. The artist, Tom Prevatt from Amado, is creating one similar to the original sculpture from the Magic Carpet Golf property on Speedway.
On August 29, The Hut will hold a major event to unveil the completed statue to the public. There will be bands, Flam Chen and others performing in a great Tiki blessing ceremony. The public is invited.
To demonstrate just what it takes to move a giant sculpture over 35 feet tall and 55,000 pounds I have included some photos of the process that took place this morning.
This first photo is the Tiki head resting in the parking lot at The Hut. The task to relocate the statue required a full crew and two cranes to right it. The darker color is a primer and not the completed look.
The steel structure required by City building codes was fabricated by Division II of Tucson and engineered by local Galileo Construction Company. An artistic outer sculptured base is in process and will be attached to this structure soon.
To right the resting Tiki required two massive cranes and several crewmembers.
Once the giant Tiki was righted then one crane moved away and the larger of the two cranes was reconnected.
Once connected the crane rose the Tiki up and onto the steel support structure.
Finally the head rested on top of the new support structure and then welded to the new base. The outer frame used for the initial relocation will be removed.
Old Stone Face from the Magic Carpet now has a new home and Tucson has a new three-story landmark. In the future visitors to downtown can just tell their friends “meet me under the Tiki on 4th Ave.” It will be easy to find since it is the tallest structure on the avenue.