Standing 26 feet high, One-Eyed Jack is a painted steel jackrabbit sculpture by Tempe-based artist John Randall Nelson. The 20,000-pound sculpture stands on the corner of Marshall Way and Indian School Road, welcoming residents and visitors to the art galleries, shops, and restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale’s Arts District. One-Eyed Jack stands as a reminder of Marshall Way’s history and a nod toward its future. Like Lewis Carroll’s fictional white rabbit, the sculpture beckons us to make the leap into Old Town Scottsdale.
Conceptually, rabbits have been symbols rebirth, cleverness, and foolishness. They also reference magic, transformation, intuition, luck, and the power of listening. A geometric abstraction, One-Eyed Jack sits alert and listening. The jackrabbit here is analyzed, broken up and reassembled, using shape, form, and line to reduce the figure to its most essential and fundamental features, referencing the visual language of modernist sculpture. One-Eyed Jack stands for the eclectic, artistic heritage of the area—a multi-layered symbol well suited to represent the historical, avant-garde legacy of Marshall Way and the promise of a bright future.
The origins of this piece go back to 2014, when a group of business and property owners along Marshall Way, between Indian School Road and 5th Avenue, formed a stakeholders group to secure funding from the Scottsdale City Council for an entryway feature that might encourage residents and visitors to stop and explore the businesses along Marshall Way. After a lengthy public input process, Nelson’s proposal was chosen, in part, for its eye-catching design. At night, the piece is illuminated with a soft LED glow, designed to accentuate the planes and angles of the sculpture.
Nelson’s design mixes the Southwest appeal of an iconic desert animal with the modern aesthetic of nearby contemporary art galleries. The sculpture references both the desert agrarian roots of the Scottsdale area and the modern hustle and bustle of the arts and shopping district, including the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk on Thursday nights. The sculpture is also connected to Nelson’s time as a painting student at Arizona State University in the 1980s and 1990s as he regularly attended many of the opening exhibitions around Old Town Scottsdale.
One-Eyed Jack was fabricated at R.J. Ruff & Co. in Phoenix.