DENVER — Perhaps no one piece of art has ever divided Coloradans — not to mention foreigners passing through the state’s biggest city via commercial jet — more than the sometimes-playfully- and sometimes-not-so-playfully-dubbed “demon horse” that greets travelers entering or exiting the Denver International Airport.
On Feb. 11, a debate on whether to move the 32-foot blue horse with piercing red eyes or let it continue to occupy the perch it has held for almost five years can officially be held by those with the power — both literally and legislatively – to move the 9,000 pound creation.
Members of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs and the Denver Public Art Program will take part in that debate. When grumblings about the sculpture’s demonic nature began shortly after it was mounted in front of the airport on Feb. 11, 2008, the two groups divulged the portion of the legally-binding agreement that guaranteed the work of art’s placement in front of DIA for a period of five years.
In less than two weeks, those five years will be up. And the expected-to-be-upcoming debate about the sculpture’s potential relocation is expected to be a complicated one.
For instance, one of the most compelling arguments that could be made for relocating the sculpture could also be used for keeping it put: Is the fact that the horse killed its creator a better reason to move it, or to let it be?
A piece from “Mustang,” the sculpture’s given name, fell and struck renowned sculptor Luis Jiménez in 2006 as he was in the process of finishing what was to be his final creation. It severed an artery in his leg and he bled to death.
At the time, Jiménez was 12 years late on delivering the sculpture, as per his contract with the city of Denver. It was finally completed and installed two years after the 65-year-old’s untimely and unfortunate demise.
The city forked up $650,000 for the finished product, more than double what it had initially agreed to pay. Since the work was the last piece Jiménez ever created, an art appraiser in New York City now values it at $2 million — a figure that could serve as fodder for relocation advocates.
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