Turlock Still Searching for Shamiram Site; Could Take Two Years for CSU Stanislaus To Decide

Bianca Davoodian

A City of Turlock subcommittee devoted to finding a city-owned site for a donated statue of Queen Shamiram, the first female ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, remains focused on placing the statue at California State University, Stanislaus.

“Everything else is a plan B,” said Andrew Davoodian, a Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs Commissioner who sits on the Shamiram siting subcommittee.

But CSU Stanislaus has yet to confirm any interest in the statue, and has said that it would be at least two years before any decision would be made.

The nine-foot tall bronze statue depicting Shamiram was donated to the City of Turlock by Narsai David, a chef, radio, and television personality, originally of Turlock. That donation came after CSU Stanislaus originally declined the piece, finding the artwork did not fit into the university's public art plan after extensive review.

Davoodian met with new CSU Stanislaus Interim President Joe Sheley on Monday to discuss the piece again, on different terms. Rather than discuss the piece's artistic merit, Davoodian attempted to convince Sheley that the artwork's historical and cultural relevance warranted its placement on campus.

“His words were, and I quote, 'It's still open,'” Davoodian said.

But Sheley said CSU Stanislaus doesn't have the proper processes in place to accept and care for the statue, valued at approximately $250,000. Developing those processes will take approximately two years, Sheley told Davoodian, with no guarantee that the university will be interested after the process is developed.

So Turlock faces three options: either keep the statue in storage for two years until the university decides, place the statue in a temporary site with the intention of moving it in two years if CSU Stanislaus agrees, or give up on the university and choose a different, permanent site.

The subcommittee voted on potential permanent sites, narrowing a list to four “Plan B” locations: the Carnegie Arts Center, the Turlock Senior Center, the new Public Safety Facility, and the Assyrian-American Civic Club.

As Turlock continues its quest for a suitable location for Shamiram, an Assyrian community club outside of Chicago has formally requested David re-donate the statue for display at their facility. But David is not inclined to accept their offer, Turlock staff said, as he wants the piece to be public art, not placed where only Assyrian-Americans can appreciate it.

“He's given it to Turlock,” Davoodian said. “He really wants it to be here.”

Because of that, David ruled out the subcommittee suggested-site at Turlock's Assyrian-American Civic Club. And the City of Turlock eliminated the suggestion of the Public Safety Facility, as the development's artwork has already been planned out.

With those out of the running, only two subcommittee-recommended sites remain: the Turlock Senior Center, located at 1191 Cahill Ave., and the Carnegie Arts Center, located at 250 N. Broadway.

In hopes of finding the perfect location, the subcommittee will reconvene in the coming month to consider additional sites – and to make a decision on whether to wait on CSU Stanislaus.

“We haven't looked at every possible outcome,” Davoodian said. “We haven't exhausted all of the possible locations in the City of Turlock.”

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