The Village experience is about more than just working out. It begins with carefully planned architecture, welcoming interiors and state-of-the-art equipment to bring wellness to body, mind and soul – whether it be in the spa or on a treadmill. And what better way to greet members than with a water feature and a statue, specific and unique to each of the four Village clubs.
“What started with one sculpture at our first location has turned into a tradition at all of our clubs,” said Village Health Clubs and Spas President Carol Nalevanko. “These sculptures have really become our mascots at each location. They are the first greeting that you get when you arrive. And each sculpture reflects a certain piece of that individual club.”
“I get knocked down, but I get up again.” As members walk up to the very first Village club, they are greeted by a boxer, who seems to be down on his luck, dropped to the ground in the midst of a fight. But, as the story goes, he won’t be down for long.
The boxer sculpture at Camelback Village, titled “Dropped Antaeus,” refers to Antaeus, a figure in Greek mythology who gained strength from the ground. Its sculptor, Joe Brown (1909-1985), was a sculpture professor at Princeton, and a peer and friend of DMB partner Bennett Dorrance’s father. Joe Brown gifted the sculpture to Dorrance’s father who then gifted it to Dorrance who donated the sculpture to Camelback Village in 1990 when DMB purchased the club. Bennett set the standard for future clubs sparking the incorporation of art into all of the Village clubs.
The “Desert Dreamer” statue that greets members as they walk up to the serene Gainey Village was designed and sculpted by David Phelps, an award-winning, internationally collected artist known for figurative artwork in bronze, cast concrete and fabric steel that explores the deep connections between humanity and the notion of place and landscape.
Like many of his sculptures, “Desert Dreamer” appears partially submerged. Its likeness is alive and cracked, reflecting the dry desert environment that surrounds it.
Phelps also created the statue at DC Ranch Village, “Day Dreamer,” in 2007 when the club was built. Surrounded by the McDowell Mountains, “Day Dreamer” depicts a woman floating effortlessly in water, reminding visitors to ease into relaxation, as they enter this positive space for growth.
The sculptor uses his surroundings and connection with nature to inspire his work and evoke introspection, contemplation and meditation. “I grew up on a farm in the central valley of California, where the fields became an extension of oneself,” Phelps said. “I continue to live in the wide open spaces of Oklahoma where my sculptural images expand to include their environments as part of the experience.”
The newest Village club was graced by its sculpture in June of 2015. “The Rower” was commissioned by the Village in collaboration with Mitchell Brown Fine Art of Paradise Valley, and was sculpted by Tucson Artist Lauri Slenning.
Modeled after DMB Executive Vice President Michael DeBell’s daughter Lauren, “The Rower” reflects the Village’s commitment to athletic achievement and also the scenic overlook of the lake behind the club. The college rower posed with a sleek racing scull, and was sculpted into clay to create a mold for the bronze to be hand-cast at Tucson’s Metalphysic foundry. The massive sculpture is 21 feet long, 11 feet wide, 5 feet high and weighs in at 1,800 pounds.
While Slenning is the artist and creator, she is quick to note that her team of sculptors played a large part in the process. “In no other fine art expression does the artist rely so heavily on other craftsmen to realize the artist’s vision, essentially handing over the artwork to others,” she said.
“We value the entire environment from the artwork on the walls to the architecture,” Nalevanko said. “We understand how important all of the amenities and special touches are to the whole experience of the members and we believe that is what differentiates the Village Health Clubs and Spas.”