Not So Gentle Tamer by Debbie Gessner 

Not So Gentle Tamer

A pioneer lady of refinement - and one of true grit at the same time – “Not So Gentle Tamer” stands 10 feet tall and occupies a prominent position on the Civic Center Campus. The "Not-So-Gentle Tamer" is standing in her garden, dressed in her Sunday finest. She is attired in a ruffled shirtwaist and an embroidered vest over a petticoated skirt with a bustle in the back. The concept of “snake taming” suggests images of snakes being lulled or hypnotized by gentle music. This pioneer woman, on the other hand, is not so gentle at all about her snake taming. She is pictured with a shovel in one hand and a headless snake in the other hand, leaving the viewer to imagine what might have just occurred.  

Sculptor Debbie Gessner was inspired for the imagery of this piece from a painting by historian and artist Bob Boze Bell. Bell's inspiration for his original painting was his grandmother Louise Guess, the wife of an Arizona rancher who he remembers "calmly dispatching rattlesnakes with her trusty hoe."

Arizona was among the first states to grant women the right to vote, even though the Legislature had to temporarily rescind the right to obtain the final statehood proclamation approved by Congress and the U.S. president. The federal government did not recognize women’s right to vote until 1920. In that respect, "Not So Gentle Tamer" represents the pioneering spirit that the League of Women Voters espouses. Vicky O'Hara, president of the local League of Women Voters, said, “The concept of the League embodies women's pioneering spirit in this country. We have fought for equal rights and women's issues throughout our history. This statue exemplifies this spirit. The women who built the West were fighting for a better life for their families, equal rights, and an equal voice”.