Someone’s Watching You: Mike Rawlings’ Plan to Make Downtown Dallas The Envy of All Texas

Tony Tasset's "Eyeball" going up across from The Joule. (Photo by Jeanne Prejean)
Tony Tasset’s “Eye,” as it was going up in September across from The Joule. (Photo by Jeanne Prejean)

The Great Gatsby‘s valley of ashes had the Eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg. Now Mayor Mike Rawlings apparently wants downtown Dallas to become known for the spirit of Tony Tasset’s Eye sculpture.

Rawlings, it seems, thinks upping its “cool index” could propel downtown to another level. So he wants the area to get organized and get funky and make the rest of Texas sit up and take notice. Delivering his “State of Downtown” address at a luncheon today at the Omni Dallas Hotel for Downtown Dallas Inc., Rawlings cited Tasset’s 30-foot-tall sculpture, installed across from The Joule hotel, as a model of aspirational coolness.

“You want to work near that eyeball!” the mayor enthused. “Imagine if we had that throughout downtown. Guys, I’m as serious as a heart attack. Let’s … make downtown the coolest, most artistic, most fun place around.” For example, downtown residents could “get funky … with Christmas lights,” he went on, in to order to attract the attention and envy of people “who live in the boring parts of town, like where I live.” Rawlings suggested that a “change team,” like one he had while running Pizza Hut, could be organized to drive this “new spirit” in an organic way. The team might consist of 30 or 40 people. He’ll be happy to coach.