'Giganticus' sculpture helps Route 66 renaissance
KINGMAN -- Gregg Arnold doesn't take offense when people tell him he has a big head.
That's because he's got one. A really, really big one. It's called Giganticus Headicus, and anyone whose seen it while driving down Route 66 about 18 miles north of Interstate 40 in Kingman has undoubtedly done a double-take.
Giganticus Headicus is green, stands 14 feet tall and is essentially a replica of the ancient stone monoliths known as Maoi that surround Easter Island in the South Pacific.
A certified welder by trade, Arnold said "The Andy Warhol Diaries," which were published after the artist's death in 1987, inspired him.
"The creativity just flew there," said Arnold. "I always wanted a place like that and I thought, "What better place than Route 66?'
"I want this for artists, painters, poets, whatever their outlet is."
For about nine years, Giganticus Headicus has stood sentinel along Route 66 and it has become one of the more popular stops along one of America's most famous roads.
Joining Giganticus at what was once the Kozy Korner trailer park are giant robotic ants that "crawl" on the outside walls and a windmill-type creation that uses a chair and table from the 1950s for blades.
And somewhere on the property is a drum that warns visitors there are baby rattlers inside. They soon overcome their aversion to the reptiles when they see the rattlers are for babies, not baby rattlesnakes.
Arnold is in the middle of remodeling the A-frame building that once housed a bar and restaurant.
His goal has two prongs: One is to give motorists a reason to stop and hopefully buy a bite to eat and a souvenir or two, including miniature replicas of Giganticus Headicus.
The second prong is to attract artists to the site who could channel their muse's inspiration in one of the back rooms.
In addition to Arnold's artwork - he's a painter as well as a sculptor - visitors can take in some of nature's beauty as well.
In the distance stand scenic vistas of the Grand Wash Cliffs and Peacock Mountains.
"There's a great energy here," he said. "I never drew a picture. I never did sculpting until I came here."
He picked a doozy for his initial foray into sculpting.
Giganticus Headicus is made of metal and wood, chicken wire, Styrofoam and cement. The entire structure is spiked into the ground.
Since its creation, Arnold said Giganticus Headicus has been featured in several television commercials and was named one of the 60 most interesting places to visit along the whole of Route 66.
Arnold is one of many who believe Route 66 and the nostalgic Americana it represents are due for a rebirth after 40 years of decline.
Ironically, it isn't Americans so much who will lead the renaissance, but tourists from Europe who love the famous highway almost as much as they love the Wild West.
He doesn't have a timeline to make all the improvements, but he does have a plan. Sort of.
"I just do as much as I can in a day," he said with a chuckle. "I want to enhance the Route 66 experience and put blood back into the heart of Route 66."