Harry Above the Crowd, 1998

Harry Above the Crowd. Fabricated steel, ceramic tile, and concrete, 35’ x 14’ x14’. Sited at Tempe City Hall. Tempe, AZ. Fabricated in collaboration with Michael Levine, Levine Machine, and Ron Ruff, R.J Ruff and Associates, 1998.


“Harry Above the Crowd” celebrates the historical tenure of former Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell. The base of the sculpture incorporates printed tile that create a time line highlighting the years of Mitchell’s tenure. The story begins in 1970 and gently spirals upward to 1994, representing that labyrinth of 24 years of public service. By transferring fragments of history (news articles, budgets, blue prints, etc.) onto tiles and placing them chronologically, we created a winding path that reflects the accomplishments of Mayor Mitchell's legacy. Just as the height of this sculpture creates an impact on a monumental scale, the text and the tile work create interest on an intimate human scale.


“A soaring, 35-foot-tall depiction of a beloved city councilman, 1970-78, and mayor, 1978-1994, as a stilt walker. Creator John Randall Nelson intended the exaggerated dimensions of “Harry Above the Crowd” to represent Harry Mitchell’s “heightened sense of potential, performance and accomplishment.” Coincidentally, live stilt walkers regularly stroll the city’s Mill Avenue during spring and fall Tempe Festival of the Arts.” Lisa Polacheck, Where Magazine, 2015