SAN ANTONIO (December 12, 2019) — The adage that everything in Texas is bigger and better is best illustrated by the massive cowboy boot sculpture that adorns North Star Mall's northern face. The “World’s Largest Cowboy Boots” sculpture stands an impressive 35-feet, three inches tall, 30-feet long, nine–feet wide and weighs in at 10,000 pounds. According to the sculpture’s creator, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, each boot could hold upwards of 300,000 gallons of beer, just in case anyone was inclined to fill them.
Artist Bob “Daddy O” Wade was 36 years old in 1979 when he was contacted by the Washington Project for the Arts out of Washington, DC to create a Texas-themed sculpture to be featured in an empty lot, mere blocks from the White House. Built on site, Wade created two structures that in 2016 became Guinness World Record-certified Cowboy Boots – the largest such sculpture in the world.
When he was creating the boots, Wade says lots of turn-of-the century buildings in DC were being torn down, leaving huge piles of rubble. “A number of the steel beams in the base of the boots come from those buildings,” he states, adding that he likes the idea that those structures live on in his creation. Approximately forty feet high and thirty feet long, the boots are made of tubular steel sprayed with polyurethane foam. He liked having the boots in DC, calling it, “A monument to cowboy boots in a city of monuments.”
Interest in the sculpture was immediate because Wade could easily be seen constructing them behind a metal fence. So, tour buses often stopped to gawk and even Joan Mondale, wife of then-Vice President Walter Mondale, paid a visit. “She was a big arts supporter,” Wade explains. “She was called ‘Joan of Arts’ in the arts community.”
Shortly after its creation, a bidding war ensued between a company in Houston and The Rouse Company, then owners of North Star mall, who purchased the landmark for $20,000. Getting them from DC to San Antonio is a story that includes getting stuck under an overpass. From that point on the truck drivers responsible for moving the boots took back roads all the way to Texas. In typical Wade fashion, a song was born of the ordeal, entitled “Too High, Too Wide and Too Long,” and a documentary of the same name about Wade – directed by Keren Dinitz — was released in 1999.
Wade is known for several other giant creations, including a 40-foot long iguana that now sits atop the Ft. Worth Zoo, dancing frogs that can be found on the roof of a Taco Cabana in Dallas and a 70-foot high saxophone in Houston, among others.
Wade’s outsized personality matches his gargantuan statues. His nickname evolved during his high school years in El Paso due to his slicked back hair, a ’51 hotrod and El Paso style. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, he earned a Masters in Painting from the University of California at Berkeley and has taught college classes in Waco, Dallas and Denton. “I’m an erudite guy,” he laughs during one of many interviews he has provided through the years.
In the last few years, Wade’s art has focused on transferring vintage and Texas-themed photos to photo-linen on a large scale where he then airbrushes color onto the canvases. His most well-known is a 10-foot wide canvas titled “13 Cowgirls.”
The World’s Largest Cowboy Boots is celebrating its 40th anniversary in January and Wade couldn’t be prouder. Now 76, he calculates the boots have been around a little more than half his life. They’ve become iconic – used in commercials and highlighted in every San Antonio event that garners state and national attention. According to Wade, they’ve even been the subject of a master’s thesis – a fitting study for boots that have earned their place in Texas culture.
North Star Mall is managed by Brookfield Properties – a fully-integrated, global real estate services company, providing industry-leading portfolio management capabilities across the real estate investment strategies of Brookfield Asset Management – a global alternative asset manager with over $500 billion in AUM.
Brookfield Properties develops and manages premier real estate with a focus on maximizing the tenant experience in addition to the investment and operational performance of the asset. They also focus on integrating leading-edge real estate technologies which enables us to be at the forefront of innovation and sustainability – benefiting not only their tenants and business partners, but also the communities in which they operate.
For more information about Brookfield Properties’ approach to operating and developing best-in-class real estate, please visit brookfieldproperties.com.
Follow North Star Mall on Facebook: NorthStarMall and Instagram @shopnorthstar. North Star is located at 7400 San Pedro, at the intersection of Loop 410 and San Pedro Avenue. For more information call (210) 340.6627 or visit www.northstarmall.com.