Prescott Valley now boasts an 18 ½-foot obelisk that symbolically shows the centuries-old history of the area.
More than 125 people watched as the new landmark —Jenkin’s Obelisk — was formally dedicated Aug. 28.
Lora Lee Nye, former vice mayor and Town Council member and chair of the Arts and Culture Commission, praised sculptor Ed Reilly for his creative design: “This fulfills a 20-year dream we on the Arts Commission had.”
Mayor Kell Palguta noted a generous contribution of more than $100,000 to the Town’s public arts fund from resident Ray Jenkins and his family finally made the sculpture possible.
Created by award-winning artist Reilly, the bas-relief bronze is destined to be an admired artwork on what was once not much more that a dirt trail. The site is the southwest corner of Skoog Boulevard and Lakeshore Drive. Prescott Valley is now the largest populated incorporated community in Yavapai County approaching 48,000.
Reilly told the crowd when he first conceived the obelisk design, he wanted to symbolize the vibrant regional history. “I designed four panels to carry the message — Granite Mountain Yavapai, mining, ranching and the present and blossoming future,” he said.
“Critical to understanding the area’s history is the contribution of the Yavapai Indians. They thrived in central Arizona. Their baskets, their weaving, their tribal artwork — all these reveal their intense relationship to nature and the environment,” Reilly said, pointing at the delicate patina finish on the first panel.
He explained the second panel, saying in 1863, gold miners changed the culture of Yavapai County. They discovered gold on Lynx Creek near what was to become Prescott Valley. That historic era brought hard-rock miners and their tools and some animals to previously ignored Arizona Territory. A grubby miner stands near a gold-encrusted mine entrance.
Reilly used the third panel to illustrate the beginning of cattle ranching, arrival of railroads and start of commercial and residential communities. He pointed out famous Western silent movie actor Tom Mix, who owned a ranch there during the early part of the 20th century. A grinning donkey in the foreground reminds people of the original Jackass Flats name for the rural community.
The fourth panel is translucent, lighted by a rich interior glow. It features shapes climbing skyward, symbolizing the upward future.
The 12-foot bronze panels are mounted on a 6 ½-foot textured concrete base to which 2 X 3 foot plaques are attached. Descriptive copy written by Reilly explains the various images. Jenkin’s Obelisk is now one of several art pieces near the Prescott Valley Civic Center.
The original call for a commemorative monument came from the Town Council more than six years ago. Several artists submitted proposals. It took several years for the Arts and Cultural Commission to raise funds to cover costs.
Reilly and his wife Kathy own and operate the internationally known Bronzesmith Fine Arts Foundry and Gallery, 7331. E. Second St., Prescott Valley. Reilly has been creating bronze castings and sculptures since earning his arts degree at Northern Arizona University in 1978.