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Blue Mustang continues to spark debate
(Photo courtesy: Anthony C. Flickr)

By Joshua Pilkington

Atrocity or art?

Rearing its hind legs, it looms 32-feet high. Its indestructible frame weighs 9,000 pounds. Its glowing red eyes pierce the purple mountains majesty and its erratic mane both baffles and bemuses onlookers. Its creation claimed the life of its creator and it has withstood all of nature’s climatic elements.

Blue Mustang

For seven years “Blue Mustang” the anatomically correct fiberglass sculpture situated along Peña Boulevard en route to DIA has weathered vast amounts of criticism and conspiracies, while receiving a decent amount of praise. With more travelers and more long-term residents visiting the Mile High City each year, “Blue Mustang” has either been a welcome sight or one for sore eyes.

“It’s pretty much a big, blue get out,” said Alex Torreon, 29, who came to reside in Denver in 2011. “When I first saw it, it was super eerie. I came [to Denver] in July 2010 with some friends from Detroit. I had heard about the statue because it was kind of a big deal at the time, all these people were talking about how ugly it was and how the sculptor died creating it. I remember as we were heading back to the airport to catch our flight home there was a lightening storm going on. As we approached the statues, three bolts cracked around the statue like a halo. It was creepy, but really, really cool. I just wish I’d had a camera with me.”

Such are the tales of many travelers who visit Colorado and catch a glimpse of “Blue Mustang” for the first time.

The statue was the final creation of renowned sculptor Luis Jimenez’s career. In 2006 while working in his New Mexico studio, Jimenez became a victim of his art as a large section of “Blue Mustang” fell on him and severed an artery in his leg.

That history, along with the ominous look of the rearing mustang, has caused a mix reaction among viewers for seven years. Love it or hate it the statue has become, begrudgingly for some, a landmark for DIA and a part of the Colorado traveling experience.

The Misunderstood Jimenez

“Like many sincere works of art, this one is misunderstood,” said Barry Espinoza, 59, a former resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico and connoisseur of Jimenez’s art. “This statue is actually no different, aesthetically, than many of Jimenez’s sculptures. The eyes, for example, are a tribute to his father.”

Indeed, the fiberglass and automotive paintwork as well as the glowing eyes are both Jimenez’s calling cards. The former is a tribute to the lowrider culture Jimenez grew up with in El Paso, Texas, the latter a tribute to his father, who gave Jimenez his start making neon signs at his shop.

“His art is very reminiscent of Southwestern culture and customs,” Espinoza said. “Progress II” is an essential viewing as is “Border Crossing”. I would have to say his most famous piece is “Southwest Pieta”, which was designated a national historic treasure by the Clinton administration.”

Much like “Blue Mustang”, “Progress II” has the demonic glowing eyes that so many viewers of “Blue Mustang” have categorized as insensitive over the years.

“The piece’s seemingly optimistic title is in stark contrast with its sci-fi palate, post-apocalyptical aesthetic and demonic figures,” said art critic Benjamin Sutton of “Progress II”.

It depicts a wrangler on his blue steed roping a longhorn bull. Both animals are in full stride while the wrangler attempts to hang on to his steed and his rope.

“For Jimenez, progress is achieved through a series of deadly encounter and hard-fought struggles for domination,” Sutton added.

Though the luminous “Blue Mustang” continuous to attract, or detract, viewers on their way to DIA, the artist Jimenez has left behind a controversial legacy that continues to spark debate.





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