Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Amazing Story Of Life, Death, and Art At Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (known as DIA) was built in the early 1990's with a mandate to include a broad variety of public art displays.   From my non-artist's point of view, their effort has been somewhat of a success.   Attentive visitors can enjoy moving sculptures along the walls of the tunnels of the people mover system.  Others might appreciate the murals in the terminal or the paper airplane sculptures hanging from the ceiling.  In total, there are 26 art exhibits that include works from 39 different artists.

One exhibit is stands out in many ways.   On the only access road to and from the airport, Pena Boulevard, about 1 mile from the terminal, stands a giant sculpture of blue horse.   It is meant to symbolize the spirit of the west, not to promote Denver's football team, the Broncos.   The horse is reared up on it's hind legs, it's muscles are well defined, and it has a pair of lights where it's eyes would be.

Some find it a bit scary.

This work of art is even more ominous when you consider how it got there.  In 1992, Denver commissioned this work from famed Latino artist Luis Jimenez.   When the airport opened in 1995, 16 months behind schedule, it's signature piece of art was still not ready.   In fact, it's story had hardly begun.  Over the next decade, the artist labored at his own pace to complete it, while successive city governments became annoyed, frustrated, and angry as each targeted completion date passed without the artist producing a finished work.   The delay culminated with the tragic events of June 13th, 2006.   On that day, a large piece of the sculpture broke free, landed on the artist, and killed him.

It would be impossible to imagine the story ending there.  The city found an artist who was able to rebuild and complete the sculpture.    It was finally delivered to Denver earlier in 2008.    This piece represents the final work of Luis Jimenez.    

As it stands now, it is actually illegal to pull over to admire the work.   Sadly, one can only appreciate it by driving down Pena Boulevard at 55 miles per hour.   It took 16 years to complete and cost the artist his life, and now you have only a few seconds to view it.

1 comment:

Fickle Cattle said...

Interesting story. And that blue horse is amazing.