DIA horse sculpture eligible for removal soon

8:40 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - The big blue statue of a bucking mustang at Denver International Airport drew praise and hatred from the very beginning.

The giant sculpture titled "Mustang" turns five years old on Feb. 11 this year, which is an important milestone for public art in Denver.

Petitions to remove art works aren't accepted for the first five years, a rule meant to avoid tearing down art in a rash manner.

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Bucking high into the sky at the gateway between Denver and the airport, the towering Mustang makes an aggressive first impression.

"He looks like he's going to kill me," said Jennifer Newson in the DIA terminal. "It's not really settling when you're driving to get on a flight and then you see the 'demon horse.'"

She's one of many who wouldn't mind giving the horse the boot for its fifth birthday.

"I think it should go," Kim Wilkerson said. "I think those red eyes are just evil."

"When I drive by there, I think the end of the world is coming," Randy Tedrow said.

Others are perfectly content to keep the horse around.

"I think they should just leave it. It's not hurting anything," Victoria Hutchen said. "It's not like a monster or something."

Some visitors view it as a symbol of the West.

"Absolutely we have nothing like that in Boston," John Newman, who's visiting on a ski trip, said. "Keep it please. It's part of the landscape."

"I like how the eyes light up," he added.

The eyes. Oh, the eyes.

That's the part the horse-haters hate most.

"Paint the eyes," suggested Newson. "Make him look like a friendly horse."

That may be unlikely since the eyes meant the world to the artist: renowned sculptor Luis Jimenez.

"His intent was to honor his father who was a neon sign maker," said Matt Chasansky, who heads the art program at DIA.

True to fearsome form, a piece of the horse fell and killed Jimenez as he worked on it, only adding to the mystique of what some call his masterpiece.

Appraising at $2 million dollar, Denver's not likely to just throw mustang away.

"Move it somewhere not everybody traveling to Denver would have to see it," Wilkerson suggested. "That might be a better solution."

Broncos fans might love it at Mile High-or you could start a blue animal group by the convention center.

But moving the horse would be expensive and there's a downside to making it less visible.

"If this piece was put out there and no one said a word about it, I think that would be a much bigger failure," Chasansky said.

The piece has us all talking-which is what art's supposed to do. Chasansky says that's his favorite part about the mustang.

"And the eyes," he adds quietly, a grin forming on his face. "I like the eyes."

The removal of art over matters of taste is rare in Denver. Petitioners must prove "unusual circumstances."

To make an effort to remove the sculpture, someone would have to file a petition with the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs which is trusted with final say over whether to relocate or remove public art in Denver.

With such a high-profile piece of art, it's very likely you'd have other officials weighing in if a petition gains traction.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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