Best Public Art at DIA - 2012
"Mustang," by Luis Jimenez
8500 Peña Blvd.
Denver, CO 80249
The creation of "Mustang," Luis Jimenez's 32-foot-tall rearing stallion in blue painted fiberglass, has all the elements of a good movie: Mature artist gets a major commission and attempts to create his masterpiece, but can't seem to complete it. More than ten years pass, with dueling lawsuits crossing between the artist and his patron, the City and County of Denver. Then, in what would be considered the climax — if later outrageous events didn't eclipse it — the still-under-construction piece falls and kills Jimenez. The sculpture was eventually completed by his studio and erected in 2008 outside the Jeppesen Terminal at Denver International Airport — and that's when the manure really hit the fan. The piece was stung by the slings and arrows of genuine hatred, including a social-media campaign to have it removed; its nostrils, glowing eyes and scrotum were the subjects of obsessive interest. The commotion proved once again that great art can elicit strong emotions; these just weren't the right ones. The haters obviously don't understand (much less appreciate) Jimenez's sophisticated neo-pop work, a combination of the heroic Western sculpture tradition and the sensibility of Chicano low-rider culture — and a perfect symbol for Denver.
Readers' Choice: "Mustang," Luis Jimenez