Saturday, February 07, 2009


Because of this thing
People think they are in hell
Instead of Denver.

One of 200 haiku written to protest Luis Jimenez's Mustang sculpture that Denver area developer Rachel Hutin dropped off at the mayor's office this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As a former Denver resident I wasn't aware of the controversy surrounding the installation of Mr. Jimenez's Mustang at the Denver International Airport until my brother sent me the clipping. He went to school with Hutin and got a charge out of seeing her pic in that funky sketch format that the WSJ uses.

I got a charge out of the story, which included telling details about the Mustang's "light-emitting diode" eyes "which burn red like taillights," as well as this spooky plot point:

Mr. Jimenez was killed working on the sculpture. In 2006, while he was hoisting pieces of the mustang for final assembly in his New Mexico studio, the horse's massive torso swung out of control and crushed the 65-year-old artist.

Personal opinion? I'm all for art that makes people squirm, and I think it's good for Denver to be a little uncomfortable with Mr. Jimenez's sculpture (may he rest in peace). Colorado harbors a heavy-handed preference for a nearly neutered realism in its public art, and as a result there's a preponderance of tedious pastoral bronzes peppered about public places.

Speaking of real: Once I met a horse in the wild and I nearly soiled myself. I was walking with a friend on the island Vieques, a brief ferry ride from Puerto Rico. The horses run wild on Vieques, which sounds charming until you encounter one at a full gallop on a lonely road with only a scrabble of jungle to hide in. Hide I did, and you would have too: they're fiercer and stronger and wilder than you would imagine they could be. The one I encountered was quasi-domesticated, and even this one, sprung from any memory of a paddock, scared the bejesus out of me.

I can only imagine that Mr. Jimenez got the spirit of the Mustang just right.

p.s. Says my brother: "The horse is a bit demonic. Maybe the setting just isn't right. I think they should at least turn off the eyes."


patrick said...

I agree... the eyes lighted up are a bit over the top.

Oh, and I was surprised to see that Noli isn't a flickr contact of yours. She's one of the Wall Street Journal artists.

Guy said...

when I read the part about how he was killed I knew I'd seen his work here in Dallas it's part of the permanent collection at the Latino Cultural Center, on of my favorite neighborhood haunts.

bd said...

Tedious pastoral bronzes...Neutered realism...I think Detritus hasn't had her joe yet. Love the girl on a swing.

David said...

I don't mind the glowing eyes at all, but I do mind the fact that it's ugly, and not in a good way. I saw his other sculpture in the paper's photo album and it was equally awful. The photo you put on your blog is the most flattering view I've seen so far.

elefanterosado said...

He looks like he's ready to charge with the cavalry... :-)

I feel protective of the mustang due to the fact that this tough, well-adapted creature stands as a vital and potent symbol of freedom--one that has been heavily assaulted by frontier encroachment. Luckily these horses are carefully protected now. And many of them, though feral, are kind and biddable of temperament and can be trained. It's a shame that Mr. Jimenez's sculpture showed one example of the breed to such disadvantage. (May he rest in peace.)

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