More Sad News - Chicano Artist Luis Jimenez
Wed Jun 14, 11:41 AM EST
HONDO, New Mexico (AP) - Luis Jimenez, a successful but often controversial sculptor whose work has been displayed at the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art, died in what authorities called an industrial accident.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said part of a sculpture was being moved with a hoist at Jimenez's New Mexico studio on Tuesday when it came loose and struck the artist, pinning him against a steel support. The 65-year-old sculptor was taken to the Lincoln County Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The accident remained under investigation late Tuesday.
"Luis Jimenez's loss to the United States, to New Mexico, to the Chicano community is great," his friend David Hall told Albuquerque TV station KRQE. "He was an icon, he was a very famous and well-respected artist. ... We will dearly miss him."
Jimenez, a native of El Paso, Texas, was known for his large and colourful Fiberglas sculptures that depicted fiesta dancers, a mourning Aztec warrior, steelworkers and illegal immigrants. His work often started arguments and spurred emotions.
"It is not my job to censor myself," Jimenez once said. "An artist's job is to constantly test the boundaries."
Jimenez's Vaquero and Plaza de Los Lagartos sculptures have become civic landmarks in El Paso, where he grew up learning to paint and fashion large works out of metal in his father's sign shop.
"I think Luis shared this border region with the world. Those images will continue to live on," El Paso art gallery owner Adair Margo told the El Paso Times. "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."
Jimenez studied fine arts at the University of Texas in Austin and spent time working in New York.
In 1969, he created Man on Fire, a sculpture of a man in flames that drew its inspiration both from Buddhist monks in South Vietnam who burned themselves and the Mexican story of Cuahtemoc, set afire by Spanish conquerors. The sculpture was displayed at the Smithsonian.
More recently, Jimenez completed a mud casting of firefighters and three Fiberglas flames as part of a memorial for the city of Cleveland. He was also working on a piece that was destined for the Denver International Airport.
Jimenez won numerous awards and his work is on display at public sites across the nation and in New Mexico, including at the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque's Martineztown.