Hi, Karl –
I enjoyed your column today! On a hunch, I checked the extensive online archive of the dearly departed University of Nevada Oral History Program (UNOHP), which interviewed Dick Graves in 1978. He discusses the rooster mosaic and its creator, Larry Argiro, on p. 119-120.
Placing the UNOHP archive online was my proudest accomplishment as director of the program and I’d love for more people to know about this great resource for state and local history. The shortcut to reach the archive is www.unr.edu/oralhistory and the interviews date back to the mid-1960s. Every interview has been digitized and can be searched online, printed, and downloaded.
The direct link to Dick Graves’ oral history is a bit unwieldy, but it’s http://contentdm.library.unr.edu/cdm/ref/collection/unohp/id/2480 and you could link to that online, but in print, I’d just give peoplewww.unr.edu/oralhistory which takes you to the search page where you can search by name.
Here’s the excerpt, but the entire oral history is fascinating—the story of the golden rooster, the origin of Trader Dick’s, etc.
Alicia Barber, Ph.D., Stories in Place LLC
HERE’S THE EXCERPT FROM DICK GRAVES’ ORAL HISTORY:
Graves: One item that I forgot to mention on the new Nugget was the mosaic of a rooster. This was on the outside of the building, close to the main entrance. This was fourteen feet high and was executed by Larry Argiro who is a professor of Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz. It contains thirty thousand pieces of Venetian glass and laminated—some of the pieces of glass are laminated with gold leaf. It was very beautifully done, and he came out and helped install it on the front of the Nugget. It still is there today. I can’t recall just how I found out about Mr. Argiro. I think it was from some article that I read about him or something, someplace, but he did do a fine job and it still is a beautiful piece of work—looks like it had just been put up.
UNOHP: How long did it take him to complete the rooster?
Oh, I would say several months. It was all in various colors, and it wasn’t particularly meant to duplicate the golden rooster; it was just a large, beautiful rooster with quite a bit of gold in it. There were lots of colors in it.
He did it on site?
No, it was done in New York, and then shipped out—he brought it out on the plane and it was done in sections on plywood, and then these were put up. He supervised putting them on the front of the building.
Do you recall the total cost of the piece of work?
No, I don’t, I don’t have that at all. It wasn’t cheap by any means, but it really added to the front of the Nugget, the huge statue of Last Chance Joe was on one side and the Golden Rooster over on the other and then with the names of some of the restaurants on the front of the building, made a nice-looking, pleasing-looking building and a pleasing entrance to the building.