After 16 years, Mustang sculpture installed at DIA
February 11, 2008
DENVER – A 32-foot sculpture commissioned three years before Denver International Airport opened was finally installed Monday in the median of Pena Boulevard leading up to the terminal.”Mustang” was bolted onto a concrete base and the plastic and duct tape was to be removed on Tuesday.Creation of the sculpture survived lawsuits over the pace of the work, the illness of sculptor Luis Jimenez, and his death when a section of the sculpture came loose from a hoist and pinned him against a steel support beam.Jimenez was 65 when he died at his Hondo, N.M., studio in June 2006. His family, including sons Adan and Orion, finished the sculpture, his widow Susan Jimenez said.”The sculpture he pretty much had completed… he stated that the head was finished,” Jimenez said. “The torso and the hind quarters had been modeled in fiberglass. It was all ready to go.”Adan and Orion Jimenez were 8 and 10 years old, respectively, when they began helping their father work on the sculpture commissioned in 1992. The brothers, now 20 and 21, prepped the fiberglass. Richard Lobato, of Roswell, N.M., who earned a reputation for painting low rider cars, and owner of Lobato Racing, and another painter named Camillo Nunez painted the sculpture using color formulas written by Jimenez before he died.”I cannot tell you happy we are,” Susan Jimenez said. “I don’t think you can even put into words, what it represented to Luis and how much he put into it and how it took on it’s own personality.”The sculpture was built in three pieces – head, torso and legs. A custom-fabrication shop north of San Franisco built the frame that allows the 6 ton piece to stand on its own.Jimenez, a world-renowned artist learned to paint and to fashion large works out of metal in his father’s sign shop in El Paso, Texas. He graduated in fine arts from the University of Texas in Austin and lived in New York City for a time.His 1969 work, “Man on Fire” depicted a man in flames that he said drew its inspiration both from Buddhist monks in South Vietnam who burned themselves and the Mexican story of Cuahtemoc, set afire by Spanish conquerors. The sculpture was displayed at the Smithsonian.Jimenez won numerous awards and his work is on display at public sites across the nation and in New Mexico, including the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque’s Martineztown.”Mustang” held a personal connection for Jimenez, who as a child asked his parents for a horse and was instead given a stick horse. He partly modeled the sculpture on a horse he eventually bought, an Apaloosa named Blackjack.”That horse and him or that spirit is so imbued in this piece. That would probably be a monument to his spirit, his primitive animalness… He was an unusual person, in a good way.”She also said it’s a monument to the West and how the arrival of horses helped bring civilization to the region by allowing people to travel long distances.