Wednesday, June 14, 2006

RIP Luiz Jimenez :: Sculpture entitled The Sodbuster

Sometime in the late 80's, Luis Jimenez loaned his sculpture entitled The Sodbuster to the El Paso Natural Gas Company for display. While I did not see it on display (photo by my boss at the time, James Dean) I found a wonderful 8x10 print in the files at the company when I worked in the PR department a decade later.

Sadly, Luiz Jimenez died yesterday and the world has lost an incredibly gifted and innovative artist whose sense of fun and irony permeated all his works, including his most controversial, "End of the Trail (with electric sunset)."

Article Launched: 06/14/2006 12:00:00 AM MDT

Accident kills creator of plaza's 'Lagartos'
By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
El Paso Times
Luis Jimenez, the El Paso native whose fiberglass sculptures made him an internationally prominent artist, was killed Tuesday morning in a freak accident in his art studio in Hondo, N.M., authorities said.

Jimenez, 65, was the most famous artist to come out of El Paso, with his work recognized from barrios to President Bush's ranch home near Crawford, Texas.

Around 11:50 a.m. Tuesday, Jimenez and two of his employees were moving a large statue piece with a hoist when the piece got loose, struck Jimenez and pinned him to a steel beam at Jimenez Studios, Lincoln County Sheriff R.E. "Rick" Virden said in a news release.

Jimenez received a severe leg injury and died at Lincoln County Medical Center in nearby Ruidoso.

The death of Jimenez created a shock as it spread by word of mouth through the arts community in El Paso, where Jimenez's "Vaquero" and "Plaza de Los Lagartos" sculptures have become civic landmarks.

Jimenez was a major figure in Chicano art and a pioneer in public art. His vibrant fiberglass sculptures are found in parks from Albuquerque to Fargo, N.D., home of "The Sodbuster" statue.

Last week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported he was working on a Cleveland Firefighters Memorial that was to be ready by the fall. The statue was supposed to be finished by the end of 2004, but the date was pushed back in part because Jimenez had suffered two heart attacks.

"He was one of the most original artists on the planet," said Becky Duvall Reese, the former director of the El Paso Museum of Art. Jimenez's "Vaquero" -- a 20-foot-tall statue of a Mexican cowboy on a bucking horse -- stands in front of the museum.

Jimenez's work often reflected his border and Southwestern roots. He often said he was inspired by his sign-maker father, a Mexican immigrant.

"I have a way of looking at the world that is somewhat unique, that is not maybe totally mainstream," Jimenez said in a 1995 interview with the El Paso Times. "I would hope that I've helped people have insights into the world we are living in."

Art gallery owner Adair Margo said Jimenez will live on in his work, including the "Texas Waltz" lithograph purchased by first lady Laura Bush that is now at the Bush ranch home.

"I think Luis shared this border region with the world. Those images will continue to live on," Margo said. "You look at the images he left us, you realize he was a voice that mattered, that gave form to this region and communicated it with people. He was a man of just incredible talent, but he also had great generosity of spirit."

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda@elpasotimes.com; 546-6102.

El Paso Times reporter Adriana M. Chávez contributed to this report.

Photo by James Dean

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Heavy Cloud, No Rain

Sadly, if you drive along the newly completed section of Loop 375, you can see those who are most likely to care less whether downtown is revitalized or
Franklin Mountain Poppies
not—the northeast, far east, and Mission Valley areas of town. And why? Well, IMHO it's because they believe we have no mass transit to get the homebodies into and out of the downtown/entertainment-to-be districts.

Yet last week, The Judge and I had a good time, driving from I-10 West/Transmountain, through the mountain, gliding past Parkland Middle School and over Dyer Street, onto the newly refurbished Loop (by Ft. Bliss and Airport land.) Around the bend, flying over Montana, we then headed onto the newly completed eastern Loop section, which was the reason for our adventure. And as clouds followed and surrounded us the entire time, we hoped for rain.

From the highway, we saw miles and miles of tract housing stretching out
LaBola de Oro :: I drove downtown to the border highway one Saturday morning
eastward, surrounding Montwood High School, a place which when first built, used to be in the middle of undeveloped land. We continued and drove past the eastside manufacturing and call centers, then drove along the newly constructed section with its elaborate bridge details at I-10 east at Avenue of the Americas. Finally, we began our count of high schools that lie along the Ceasar Chávez Border Highway, which is the southern stretch of the loop—Del Valle, Riverside, Bowie.

Approaching the downtown area and Segundo Barrio, we saw the elaborately tagged and graffed boxcars stopped next to the border near South Florence and made the final and semi-hazardous 45 degree turn to the right onto Santa Fe Street. Approaching Paisano, we saw a halfway demolished Tampico bar and
Holga Sunset
upper tenement apartment building (across from the now defunct fire station whose number escapes my memory, but one thought to be haunted).

Turning onto Paisano we headed for home and by the time we past Asarco’s tower, we had logged about an hour since we began. Sadly, my odometer is on the fritz, so I don't know how many miles we traveled. Yet, in that one hour we saw “heavy cloud and no rain*” views—lots and lots of anonymous plots where people live individual stories that we will never know or appreciate. And while we don't have lightrail, a third rail, or non-stop a/c'd super trollies, we do have a mostly completed loop that is a near circuit around the city--and it will help. In fact, someone from the hinterlands near Montana could conceivably drive non-stop to the downtown area in about 20 minutes. And I think that's pretty slick.

*Heavy Cloud, No Rain
Sting, from the album Ten Summoner's Tales

Turned on the weather man just after the news
I needed sweet rain to wash away my blues
He looked at the chart but he look in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Back in time with Louis XVI
At the court of the people he was number one
He'd be the bluest blood they'd ever seen
When the king said hi to the guillotine
The royal astrologer was run out of breath
He thought that maybe the rain would postpone his death
He look in sky but he look in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Well the land was cracking and the river was dry
All the crops were dying when they ought to be high
So to save his farm from the banker's draft
The farmer took out a book on some old witchcraft
He made a spell and a potion on a midsummer's night
He killed a brindled calf in the pale moonlight
He prayed to the sky but he prayed in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Heavy cloud but no rain

The sun won't shine till the clouds are gone
The clouds won't go till their work is done
And every morning you'll hear me pray
If only it would rain today

I asked my baby if there'd be some way
She said she'd save her love for a rainy day
I look in the sky but I look in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Foto Frontera at the La Fe Cultural and Technology Center

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