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Monkey on the move

Citizen Staff Writer



Tucson artist Charlie Spillar has finally got a monkey off his back.

It’s a 17-foot-tall monkey, to boot.

Spillar also has managed to alleviate the weight of a massive ostrich, a giant ant, a colossal chicken, a behemoth Buddha and menagerie of other concrete statutes from Magic Carpet Golf.

The now-defunct miniature golf course, 6125 E. Speedway Blvd., was home to an array of statues created by artist Lee Koplin in the 1970s.

Spillar had been trying to find new homes for the statues since the parcel was purchased by Phoenix-based Chapman Automotive more than a year ago.

The past weekend saw progress with a host of adoptions, many of them to private residences.

“As an artist, I know how important it is to save these statues,” he said. “Our work is our legacy. It’s part of us that lives on.”

While Spillar did not disclose the names or locations of all the adoptions, he was able to fill in a few.

The monkey has gone to the Dunbar Springs area; the ant will be skittering about in the Sam Hughes neighborhood and the bull will eventually end up at O’Shaughnessy’s Steakhouse, 2200 N. Camino Principal.

The 50,000-pound tiki head was moved in December to The Hut, a nightclub at 305 N. Fourth Ave.

Other sites around town will be graced by the Buddha; the ostrich; the skull; the sun; the kachina; the alligator and the ghosts.

Valley of the Moon, for which Spillar is a spokesman, will house several at its 1920s-era fantasy land at 2544 E. Allen Road.

The spider, the castle, “Goop” the alien, “Old Stump” the tree and pygmy hut will be joining Valley of the Moon’s existing troll bridge, gnomes, fairies and wizard tower.

“I am happy that I have been able to save so many of these unique works of art and gain some donations to help the Valley of the Moon in its restoration efforts,” Spillar said. “Chapman Automotive has been exceptional in their help to us.”

The statues were gathering dust, becoming the target of vandals and temporary housing for the homeless.

Spillar said more than once he had to chase homeless people out of the camp they set up in “Old Stump.”

The spurt of statue adoptions came after Spillar exhausted all public options for placing the works and sent out notices to the more than 100 folks who had expressed interest.

Still up for grabs are the sphinx, the dinosaur, the octopus and a few others.

For more information or to adopt a remaining statue, e-mail Spillar at cspillar@q.com.

Magic Carpet Golf statues

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