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Thu, Dec. 12

Silver Tornado shines once again: Rededication occurs at site of 1996-era bucking-bull statue

A plaque on the ground at the base of the bucking-bull statue in front of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott tells the story of sculptor Natalie Krol’s 1996 donation of sculpture, “Silver Tornado”, to the community. The statue was rededicated on Monday, June 24, to coincide with next week’s start of the “World’s Oldest Rodeo.” (Cindy Barks/Courier)

A plaque on the ground at the base of the bucking-bull statue in front of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott tells the story of sculptor Natalie Krol’s 1996 donation of sculpture, “Silver Tornado”, to the community. The statue was rededicated on Monday, June 24, to coincide with next week’s start of the “World’s Oldest Rodeo.” (Cindy Barks/Courier)

In recent years, the silver bull that stands in front of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center has been bucking mostly in the dark.

Thick undergrowth had grown up around the statue, and its lighting was long gone.

But after a cleanup at the site and a rededication this week, the Silver Tornado statue is shining once again.

Natalie Krol, who created the statue and donated it to the community 23 years ago, was on hand at the rededication event, along with more than 50 local officials and residents.

A resident of Prescott since 1990, Krol had been inspired to create the bull after noticing that a concrete slab in front of the hospital had gone statue-less.

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Prescott Chamber of Commerce ambassadors Susan Cohen, left, and Cindi LaSalle Shanks, center, and Chamber President and CEO Sheri Heiney, right, take a close look at the Silver Tornado sculpture that sits in front of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott. The statue was rededicated on Monday, June 24. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

“I decided to make a proposal to the Prescott City Council to build a bucking bull honoring my beloved town of Prescott, claiming the distinction of being the home of ‘The World’s Oldest Rodeo,’” Krol told the crowd that assembled Monday morning, June 24.

She offered to donate the sculpture to the city, and she funded it through the sale of 25 miniature bronzes, originally named “Bronze Tornado.”

Krol explained that she ended up using stainless steel instead of bronze when casting the larger-than-life bull, because, “Due to the critical engineering of his armature, and structural strength the bull needed to balance on his two front legs alone.”

She was told at the time that the bull would crack at his ankles if cast in bronze, because bronze was not as strong a material as stainless steel.

“Thus the bull was cast in stainless steel,” Krol said. “The rest is history.”

Peter Medal, a Prescott Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and master of ceremonies for the event, noted, “For 23 years, right here in front of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center, motorists and pedestrians have admired the unique stainless steel statue — the magnificent bucking bull aptly named ‘Silver Tornado.’”

Cindy Gresser, chairwoman of the City of Prescott’s Art in Public Places Committee, said the community had been losing sight of the statue in recent years.

She offered a “huge shout-out” to Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes and his staff for the clean-up around the area, and for making the statue “beautiful and visible and everything that it should be.”

Gresser added that the bucking bull statue was a fitting monument for Prescott.

“Having art in our city is just like peas and carrots,” she said. “It’s the way it’s supposed to be. And what better time to recognize this fabulous artist and this beautiful sculpture than during rodeo week, which we are known for here?”

Others also emphasized that the rededication was taking place this week to coincide with the 132nd World’s Oldest Rodeo, which is scheduled to get started July 1.

Standing 10 feet tall and 14 feet long, Silver Tornado weighs 4,000 pounds.

The statue took Krol more than a year to create. After the Monday ceremony, she told of using beer cans dipped in hot wax to form the enlargement of the bull.

She molded the bull’s form with oil-based clay that had been warmed in the microwave, and her thumbprints crafted the tufts of the bull’s coat. Ultimately, Krol said the bull was cast in 60 pieces.

Krol said she began sculpting in 1958, and got her first job in 1960. She and her husband Jack Solomon moved to Prescott from Los Angeles in 1990.

At that point, Medal said, “She was already an established international artist with 57 statues in outdoor public spaces throughout the United States and Japan. She was the first sculptor to use stainless steel in creating her massive art work.”

The statue stands on a spot near the Four-Points intersection, which once served as a cattle yard for Saler bulls, Medal said, adding, “These impressive animals became Natalie’s inspiration to create our rodeo’s legacy.”

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