Public Arts
Jessica Boldt
Contributed by:
Jessica Boldt

Public Arts | Adelfa Callejo

So often those who should receive recognition for their work and their effect on a community go unrecognized. For Adelfa Callejo, this is sadly the case.

A fearless civil rights lawyer who fought for immigrant rights, police scrutiny, [l1] and the representation of Latinos in government, Callejo became a controversial figure for the work she did and the impact she made.

After battling brain cancer, she passed away in January 2014. Shortly afterward, a statue [l2] committee formed to raise money and commission a piece from Mexican artist German Michel. The statue cost $100,000 and weighs 1,000 pounds.

Where is this monument to be placed then, you ask? Well, this has been an issue of contention, leading to a somewhat suspicious amount of procrastination.

In November 2019, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano[l3]  moved the issue of approving the statue to the council’s Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture Committee, which determines whether an artwork will be accepted, its location changed, or the project rejected altogether. This [l4] decision was made within seconds and without discussion, ignoring all possible opposition.

For a good amount of time, the statue was kept under a curtain in a back room. Originally, the statue was to be installed at Dallas Love Field Airport, where millions of travelers pass through every year. The original committee had gone through a long list of potential locations for the Callejo statue and had finally settled on the airport. Donors [l5] had wanted the statue to be indoors and in a highly trafficked area so that those outside the Latino community could learn more about Callejo’s significant contributions.

Council members have finally reached an agreement to place the statue in Main Street Garden[l6]  across from the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law. Despite the delays and controversies, advocates of the statue are proud to see installation nearing reality[l7] . Dallas can look forward to honoring a champion for the rights of its residents.

Jessica Boldt is committee and communications coordinator at AIA Dallas.


 [l1]The word was originally “security,” which threw me. I found the word the writer meant – scrutiny -- after looking up the DMN story, which uses similar phrasing.

 [l2]The Dallas City Council appointed a statue committee? A citizens committee? Need a nod to the body that formed the committee.

 [l3]I’m guessing this story was written before the latest action in February. The statue will be placed in Main Street Garden, across from the UNT law school. But when wasn’t addressed in the DMN story Feb. 13 on 1B (Metro cover).

 [l4]The decision, which essentially means the statue is left to languish – or a brief few words on whatever the upshot of the decision is

 [l5]Who were the donors – regular folks?

 [l6]Singular, no “s”

 [l7]I gather this is what’s happening