Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Blue Mustang welcomes you to Denver

Any time an artist creates an image s/he takes the risk of having it symbolize something quite different than what he intended to the people who see it.
Perfectly innocuous figures, given the right setting, can draw out all sorts of interpretations that probably weren’t ever intended.
Take the Denver International Airport’s famous blue horse, for example.
The artist, Luis Jimenez, Jr., was known for brightly colored massive fiberglass figures with a southwest theme. His work often reflected the barrio art seen in murals of Texas and Arizona where he lived.
So when the Denver International Airport approached him to do a freestanding piece as their symbol, he used one of the most powerful images in his stable- that of a rearing mustang.
Now Denver International Airport  is one of those places that just begs to be surrounded by the theorists of conspiracies. According to legend, it replaced Stapleton International Airport that could handle more traffic that the new one. And the “facts” spiral out from there.
No one seems to know who paid for it.
The layout of the runways form a swastika.
Strange languages are etched into surfaces in the airport.
A capstone of the time capsule says that the airport was built by “The New World Airport Commission”, which never existed.
(See for more)
And, worst of all- the art work is weird.    
The art work in the place, including gargoyles propping their elbows on suitcases near the baggage claim area and masked war figures stabbing doves, gets downright nightmare-inspiring at times.
Enter Jimenez’s "The Mustang", or "El Mesteno".
It's a multi ton 32 foot tall bright blue stallion (airport manager Kim Day remarked, "there is no mistaking which sex this horse is"). Its piecing red LED eyes piece the night and fog demonically.
It's such a frightening piece that it seems to have earned its nicknames- "Blucifer" and "DIAblo".
Best of all- it's got a back story. It murdered its creator.
Luis Jimenez was working on the horse alone in New Mexico on 2/13/2006 when a piece he was hoisting broke loose and fell on him, slicing the artery in his leg, killing him quickly on the studio floor.
Not a pretty site.
Two years later to the day, the horse was once again hoisted (this time by a team of workers) to greet visitors to the airport and to Denver proper.
It's definitely been tagged a tough piece to like.
And,  in keeping with the DIA conspiracy reputation, there are all sorts of theories as to who the horse represents.
Is it the pale horse of the Apocalypse?
Is it a symbol of the Denver Broncos?
Is it a symbol of the Blue Star Kachina prophecy?
Is it a statue of the horses that the unknowing victims of the notorius government experiments at Montauk Point claim to have seen?
At its dedication, Denver's mayor said that it could be seen as an image that would "ward off evil spirits- a good thing to have at an airport". Maybe not the most fortuitous turns of phrase when trying to stamp out nasty rumors.
Rachel Hultin, a local real-estate broker at the time, was so irritated by the piece (though she since says she's been converted and even has a program to educate people about art) that she started a Facebook page after a few drinks with friends called, "Bye Bye Blue Mustang".
The most lasting legacy of this page were some of the horse haiku she called for on it.
Anxiously I fly
apocalyptic hell beast
fails to soothe my nerves.    

Big blue horse beckons
Fiery, red eyes glowering
Good bye one horse town

Evil monster guarding a wicked airport, or wild west symbol shining with power?
You decide.

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