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.
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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.