Friday, July 07, 2006

An Enormous, Uninvited Wedding Guest

Those of you who have sent your RSVP's already should pat yourselves on the back. We're looking forward to seeing all of you, but we're afraid that you may have to share the Albuqueque Museum with an uninvited guest who looks something like the animal in front of the sodbuster above. How did this happen?

Almost a month ago, I was sitting with Laura at our neighborhood coffee shop, looking over a draft of one of her chapters while she nervously wrote on another one. Turning away from the chapter for a moment, I idly glanced at the previous day’s newspaper and discovered that sculptor Luis Jiménez had died in a freak accident. Jiménez, as some of you may know, was a fellow Texas Ex, born in El Paso, who was known for monumental fiberglass and plastic sculptures on Chicano and Southwestern themes. You could say that he did for all the sculptures out there of galloping horses and Indians shooting buffalo and cowboys shooting Indians what Cervantes did for Amadis of Gaul. Like Cervantes, Jimenez drew on powerful schlock to create thoughtful works of art that are both parodies of and tributes to their subject matter. Unfortunately, his last such sculpture, a piece he had been working on for ten years, fell on top of him and pinned him to a steel beam in his studio at Hondo, New Mexico.

Laura and I were shocked and saddened by the news, but we had no idea that it would affect our lives. Today, however, we received word that the lobby of the Albuquerque Museum, which we reserved last summer for our wedding, is now home to a fiberglass buffalo about the size of a moving van, with little red light bulbs in the eyes. We’d put a picture up, but the Museum staff wouldn’t let the Mother of the Bride take one. At the very least this will mean we will have to rethink the way we were planning to use the space.

Now personally, I appreciate the tribute to Jiménez’s life and work, and though I’d rather have the alligators (above) or maybe “Hunky” the working class hero (right), this piece will do just fine. After all, I am a boy from where the buffalo roamed, right? Besides, lots of people get married underneath big bloody sculptures of a man nailed to a cross. Ever heard anybody complain about that or say it was in bad taste? No ma’am, and it's a proven fact that the great buffalo herds died for my sins. But my bride plans to be blushing, and she doesn’t want the light from that big honkin’ bison’s eyes to hide the rosy glow of her cheeks. Or maybe there’s another reason, but the long and the short of it is that Lola doesn’t want the photographs of our wedding to be dominated by a fiberglass ungulate.

So what to do? We don't know yet. We could have there ceremony outside in the August heat of Albuquerque. It’s “dry” heat, but that sun can get fierce. Perhaps the auditorium might be an option. We know the galleries can’t be rented out, and it would certainly be difficult to change the venue entirely at this late date. Any thoughts? Suggestions? Leave a comment for a change!! And thanks to the Mother of the Bride for her last-minute negotiations.

* * *
For more information about Jiménez, here’s a guided tour of "Vaquero" (left) one of his works at the Smithsonian. Here too is the Washington Post’s obit, which refers to the artist as “controversial,” but doesn’t say why. The London Telegraph is less timid. Perhaps Jiménez’s most famous and controversial sculpture is “Man on fire,” (below) which was inspired by the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves to protest the Vietnam War. Good thing we have a free press in the United States. Our readers in northeast Kansas can go see his sculpture “Howl” at the Spencer Art Museum. Our Austin friends can see "Fire Man," a more recent piece (below) at the Blanton.


Blogger The Maid of Honor said...

Wow. That vietnamese monk in the Vitnam War protest sculpture sure has fantastic abs.
Seriously, the first time Lo and Iencounterd one of Jimenez's works was at the UNM campus, a sculpture of a couple dancing. The man is wearing a typical New Mexico man outfit, is remarkable only for his ordinariness. The woman however is wearing a multitiered multi colored skirt and has a mouth exactly, has to have been modeled after, the mouth of a blow-up doll. And at twelve years old or so, Lola and I both knew ugly when we saw it.
So for Lola to get married in front of such a monstrosity? I will first be dipped, fried, and completely goddamned.

July 07, 2006 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The father of the groom wants to know if the buffalo's presence means that the judge will have to follow the usual, "I now pronounce you man and wife" with "and that's no bull!"

Mother of the Groom

July 07, 2006 8:11 PM  
Blogger Pete said...

If you check out the telegraph story, they mention controversy over the dancing couple. People thought the woman was ugly yet overly sexualized, and that the man was too "panzon". I haven't seen that statue in person, but the pictures make me think of the things the carperos have talked to me about doing with folklorico.

July 07, 2006 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to know that the sculpture currently being displayed covers all of the subject matters Jimenez thought important. You see, the sculpture is of a red eyed monstor bison with a horse on top of him (?) and a Native American man on top of the horse. So you can imagine that it is, indeed, the size of a moving van and not easy to hide. One of my nieces, Amanda, recommended that we wrap it in white tulle and sprinkle rose petals on top. I'm tempted to do just that!
Mother of the Bride

July 10, 2006 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the tulle, but maybe create a ballet skirt from it and add a garland of summer flowers around his neck.

Mother of the Groom

July 11, 2006 7:01 AM  

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