See the photos appraisers used to value the "Blue Mustang" at westword.com/slideshow.
In 1993, the still-unopened Denver International Airport gave a $300,000 commission to New Mexican artist Luis Jimenez to create "Mustang," a 32-foot-high fiberglass horse. And in the ensuing sixteen years, "Mustang" has brought nothing but trouble.
When the sculpture was finally installed in February 2008 — twelve years late — its price had doubled to $650,000, and it had cost the life of Jimenez, who was killed when a piece of the statue fell on him. Then, in January, Denver resident Rachel Hultin began urging the city to move "Mustang," saying its dramatic appearance wasn't exactly welcoming to out-of-town visitors, and created a Facebook page called "DIA's Heinous Blue Mustang Has Got to Go" that has attracted hundreds of members as well as stories in the national media.
But the statue's supporters say its critics don't understand the artistic value of "Mustang." Or its considerable financial value.
In October 2007, shortly before the fiberglass beast was shipped to Denver, the city's public art program administrator, Kendall Peterson, had the sculpture appraised by Jeffery B. Bergen of ACA Galleries in New York City, which represented Jimenez.
And Bergen estimated its value at $2 million! "This figure accounts for the fact that there are only a handful of monumental works left by Luis Jimenez and this is the largest of the group," he wrote to Peterson. "All of the monumental works by Luis A. Jimenez would be appraised somewhere in this price range." (For photos that were used for the appraisal, log on to westword.com/slideshow.)
Peterson doesn't know if "Mustang" is worth more today (and Bergen didn't return a call seeking comment), but it looks like the city might have the last laugh — or whinny.
In the meantime, the city has recorded an interview with Jimenez's widow, Susan, explaining the piece, which you can hear at 1-877-DEN-ARTS, ext. 7. And on April 27, Fresh City Life and Westword will host a Mile Haiku City poetry reading dedicated to "Mustang"; watch this space for more details.
What a card! Before he was a multi-millionaire social activist, before he was the first openly gay congressman from Colorado, and before he was the star of CNN's political series Freshman Year, Boulder Democrat Jared Polis was an entrepreneur who created an online version of his parents' greeting card company, Blue Mountain Arts.
While Polis sold the company in 1999, www.bluemountain.com still exists under a new owner. Here is an example of one of its condolence e-cards;
Memories keep the one you loved
Close to you in spirit and thought,
And always in your heart
Today and forever.
Thinking of you with sympathy.
I have to say, that when we say,
'Who killed the Rocky Mountain News,'
we're all part of it, for better or worse,
and I argue it's mostly for the better.
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The media is dead, and long live the new media — which is all of us.
Oops! That wasn't a condolence card; it was Polis's heartfelt eulogy for the News, which closed February 27, delivered by Polis at a Netroots meeting that weekend.
Polis, who was criticized mightily for his choice of words, later apologized "to the entire Rocky Mountain News family and anyone who was offended by my recent remarks."
Next time, Jared, just send flowers.