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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Dionicio Rodriguez

A Mexican artist created sculptures in the 1930s that continue to delight visitors to three North Little Rock parks.

Dionicio Rodriguez was born in the early 1890s in Toluca, Mexico, and his early works can be seen in Mexico City. By 1910 he had moved to Texas, and Lakewood developer Justin Matthews sought him out in San Antonio, persuading him to create sculptures in Lakewood, Crestwood and T.R. Pugh Memorial Park.

The latter, better known as The Old Mill, is likely Rodriguez’s best-known work and is featured in the opening scenes of Gone With The Wind.

The sculptor worked with concrete but his sculptures look like wood, with peeling bark, wormholes and signs of decay. The secretive artist did not work from sketches and did not record the ingredients of the chemical washes he used in his work, which stretched over thirty years and can be found in seven states and Washington, D.C.

Rodriguez died in 1955 and is buried in San Antonio. You can read the full Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry about Dionicio Rodriguez at encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/dionicio-rodriguez-503.

Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.