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Denver, Norman share some mustang mania



Norman residents know the 8-foot tall mustang statue with fiery, red eyes crafted by Latino artist Luis Jimenez. And they remember how the fiberglass appaloosa created controversy since its installation on the University of Oklahoma campus a decade ago.

Now some Denver residents are on their high horse, wanting to relocate a larger version of Jimenez's statue installed last February at the Denver International Airport, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"It looks like it's possessed," Denver resident Samantha Horoschak told the Journal. "I have a huge fear of flying anyway, and to be greeted at the airport by a demon horse " it's not a soothing experience."

Denver developer Rachel Hultin, who started the Facebook page and signed up 7,600 supporters, dropped off hundreds of protest haiku to the mayor's office. ("Because of this thing / People think they are in hell / Instead of Denver," reads a sample verse.)

Speaking of the afterlife, Luis Jimenez died June 13, 2006, while moving a large section of the 32-foot Denver version. In a studio accident, a cable snapped and severed a leg artery, causing Jimenez to bleed to death at his Hondo, N.M., home, according to The Oklahoma Daily.

Jimenez's smaller 'stang caused "quite a stir" when installed on the Norman campus, according to the Journal.

"It just didn't fit peoples' definition of public sculpture," said Susan Baley, an OU curator.

Jimenez had appeared at OU to respond to complaints, drawing a record-setting crowd of 700 at the art museum. The blue-tinted statue was donated to OU from the Jerome M. Westheimer family in 1998 and defaced by spray-painting vandals a year later, according to the Daily. Not to change horses midstream, "Mesteno" was cleaned, waxed (!) and moved during expansion of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Now that the OU mustang has moved to different locale, residents have adjusted to the Norman landmark, Bailey told the Journal. The mustang sits in front of the museum on Boyd Street, facing OU President David L. Boren's home.

"The University of Oklahoma is proud to display a masterpiece by noted sculptor Luis Jimenez," museum director Ghislain d'Humières told CFN.

"By using unique materials like fiberglass and vivid color, Mr. Jimenez was expressing the special nature of America's Hispanic heritage. Today, the sculpture is a beloved landmark on the university campus and the city of Norman."

But what will happen to the mile-high icon? Erin Trapp, director of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, is reportedly thrilled by the passionate reaction.

"The point of art is not just to make beautiful public spaces but also to engage people," Trapp told the Journal. "That's when we know we've had a success " when people care."

Chicken-Fried News is hoping no one wants to move OKC's own über-cool airport art, "Iron Feathers," located at Will Rogers World Airport.

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