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You should have no trouble at all finding material for this subject! I'm
currently working on a Luis Jimenez exhibit. As you probably know, Luis has
made several public sculptures, the best known probably being his Vaquero
outside of the National Museum of American Art. Two of his public
sculptures, Vaquero and Southwest Pieta, were forced to relocate after the
original sites for the sculptures were scrapped due to controversy. Vaquero
was originally planned to go into Tranquility Park in Houston, but was
eventually moved to Moody Park. (According to Luis, "The city fathers
didn't like the idea of this Mexican cowboy with a gun in the middle of
downtown Houston.") Moody Park was probably a more appropriate location
anyway, for Moody Park was the location where police had killed a young
Chicano boy at some point. In the Man on Fire catalog, Luis says that "My
feeling was that it was good, if in fact, it was going into a community that
could relate to it."
And Southwest Pieta, originally planned for Tiguex Park in Albuquerque, was
forced to relocate to Martineztown. The sculpture depicts an Aztec legend
about two lovers, Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl. However, a rumor arose that
the sculpture actually depicted a Spaniard raping an Indian. Although this
was not the case, the sculpture still ended up in Martineztown. You can
read about this in more detail in the catalog Man On Fire (The Albuquerque
Closer to home, there was a mild splash of controversy when a Terry Allen
sculpture was installed in front of one of the Kansas City Law Enforcement
buildings. The sculpture (I forget the title - I believe it's cast iron)
depicts a businessman with a shoe in his mouth and his tie wrapped around
his head, covering his eyes. I believe the piece is titled "Modern
Communication" or something similar. Needless to say, the sculpture's
placement next to the police building did not go over well with everyone.
I'm sure there are a thousand more stories similar to these. Hope this
Curator of Education
Kansas City, MO
>For a future issue of the newsletter published by the North
>Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts, I am
>researching the topic of public sculpture. Controversy
>frequently accompanies installation of public sculpture. I
>would like to include within the article reference to issues
>that have stemmed from sculpture being placed in public areas.
>This is a request for your input. If you know of a controversy
>arising from the installation of public sculpture in your area, please
>share. I am looking for all sorts of issues whether they relate
>to the actual object, funding of the artwork, the site of the
>artwork, or anything surrounding the installation.
>Please be as specific as possible in your response (title of
>work, artist, location, or any reference documentation will be
>If your "controversy" is used in the newsletter article, you will be listed
>as a contributor.
>Thanks for your help!