The Hoop Dancer was a downtown Tucson landmark for nearly thirty years until in 1985 city sign codes demanded that it be removed when the store’s facade was renovated.

The Indian Hoop Dancer was already in a collector’s backyard by the time I saw it in 1990. It had been commissioned in the mid 1950s by Leroy Atkinson for his Indian Village shop at East Congress Street and North Scott Avenue in downtown Tucson. The dancing Indian was inspired by a band of Indian dancers who toured the country in the 1940s performing at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. Atkinson’s brother was their promoter. The hoop dance was particularly spectacular

When the store’s facade was renovated in 1986, city codes demanded that the sign be removed. It was saved by Brent Sandweiss and Dan Kautz who hired a welder and a boom crane to unfasten the sign from the building, lift it onto a trailer and move it to their backyard. Painstakingly they restored the broken neon tubes and were looking for a good home in Tucson for the dancer.

It is unfortunate that many city bureaucrats wouldn’t know a culturally significant work of art if it fell on them.