Those who have been to Denver International Airport in the past two years have seen it. Betwixt the two major arteries approaching or leaving the aiport is “Blue Mustang,” a sculpture by the late Luis Jimenez. Doing nothing to soothe fliers’ traveling angst, “Mustang” has caused any major art installment’s fair share of controversy.
“Mustang,” in fact, can actually be attributed towards its creator’s death. Even the Eiffel Tower and Emmanuel Monument—famous city landmarks that were derided and loathed in their own day—cannot attest to such a feat. Jimenez, who was long overdue in his delivery of the artwork, was killed by part of the 32-foot sculpture that came loose from its hoist while being moved in 2006. Perhaps out of respect, or maybe out of fear, Denver saw the project completed and placed in its eastern plains to threaten—uh, welcome—all visitors to the Mile High City.
Here in DC, we are always appreciative of little hints of home. That goes for “Vaquero,” a sculpture outside of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It’s one of Jimenez’s earlier sculptures, but one that is eerily similar to the Blue Mustang of Denver. It depicts a cowboy atop his horse which, unsurprisingly, is blue and borderline reptilian, much like Mustang.
They really are intriguing pieces of art, as far as demonic-eyed night mares are concerned. While Vaquero doesn’t enjoy the prominence of Mustang, it’s good to know that even here, thousands of miles from home, there are gift horses to be had. We just don’t look them too much too much in the mouth. They’re too scary.