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. The experience begins before a member even walks through the doors as they’re greeted with a water feature and a statue, each 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 Anteaus,” refers to Anteaus, a figure in Greek mythology who gained strength from the ground. Though he fell, he regained strength, got back up and was victorious.
Its sculptor, Joe Brown (1909-1985), was a sculpture professor at Princeton, and a peer and friend of DMB partner Bennett Dorrance’s father. The sculpture was given to Dorrance’s father by Joe Brown as a gift, and was then inherited by Dorrance. He donated the sculpture to Camelback Village in 1990 when DMB first purchased the club. Bennett set the standard for our future clubs with “Dropped Anteaus,” and sparked the incorporation of art into all of the Village clubs.
A Desert Oasis
The “Desert Dreamer” statue that greets members as they walk up to the serene Gainey Village was designed and sculpted by sculptor David Phelps, an award-winning, internationally collected artist known for exploring the deep connections between humanity and the notion of place and landscape. The large scale “Desert Dreamer” installation at Gainey Village has a surface that looks like dry cracked mud – evocative of the desert environment. His strikingly alive images reflect the vibrancy of expansive spaces, and challenge viewers on a multitude of levels, evoking introspection, contemplation and meaningful meditation.
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 as she reminds visitors to ease into relaxation, knowing they are entering a positive space for growth.
The sculptor uses his surroundings and connection with nature to inspire his work. “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.”
Phelps is known for monumental contemporary figurative artwork in bronze, cast concrete and fabric steel. Many of his sculptures appear to be partly submerged or emerging from the ground, an image that harkens back to Phelps’ early hears on the Roberts Island farm in the California Delta.
Reflecting our Surroundings
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 scenic overlook of the lake behind the club. The college rower posed with a sleek racing scull, and was then 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.
With all of the amenities and special touches that the Village holds, it’s no secret that President Carol Nalevanko wants members to view the clubs as more than a place to work out. “We value the entire environment from the artwork on the walls to the architecture,” she said. “We understand how important that is to the whole experience of the members and we believe that is what differentiates the Village Health Clubs and Spas.”
For more information about the Village Health Clubs & Spas, visit www.villageclubs.com.