Controversial Public Art Blue Mustang Denver Denver Airport Horse Sculpture

The Public Art Controversy- Denver Airport’s Steed Of Death

“It’s hideous!” “Ugly!” “Demonic!” “It’s evil!” “It scares kids!” “Get rid of it!”

What in the world are so many people so upset about anyway? What is this terrible thing that has them so up in arms, demanding it be torn down and sent to the landfill? Must be really bad, so what is it?

A horse.

Not just any horse, mind you. This one is made of fiberglass and is rearing up on its haunches, making it tower an intimidating 32 feet above the ground where it haunts the grounds of the Denver International Airport.

The sculpture, titled ‘Mustang’, is also painted a shocking blue and has red, glow-in-the-dark eyes. Black veins bulge from a well-muscled body, and strangely, the beast’s ribs are showing as if it’s not being fed enough. Its flaring nostrils and bared teeth, along with a flame-like mane rising from its neck, are not winning the stallion many friends in the year since its unveiling.

In fact, quite the opposite. Locals have begun to give it insulting nicknames such as “Bluecifer”, “Devil Horse”, and “Satan’s Steed”. This, not only because of the sculpture’s physical appearance, but also because of the unfortunate reputation it’s already gotten of being a killer.

The steed was commissioned in 1993 by the airport and created by artist Luiz Jiminez. Tragically, a part of then unfinished horse slipped and fell on him in his workshop in 2006. He later died from his injuries. Regardless, life goes on. Jiminez’s widow and sons made sure that the artist’s last piece was completed and installed as intended.

While several people have expressed their sorrow over the death of the sculptor, at the same time they still have nothing good to say about his final work, this horse from hell. Even die-hard horse lovers are quick to judge the creature. The legs are too long, and awkwardly positioned. The head is too small. And the expression is definitely less than inviting. More like, “What are you looking at, punk? Come over here so I’s can pound ya with my hoofs!”

Many more are especially outraged that this monstrosity was paid for with their tax dollars. But then, most public art is. The real question here though is, “Is it art?”

Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But can a giant, bright blue fiberglass horse with cartoonish features (such as eyebrows, which real horses don’t have) really be considered art?

Some people, a very few, say yes. They actually like the mustang, and want it to stay. But they are definitely in the minority. One woman even complained that her young children saw the sculpture, with its red glowing eyes, as their flight came in for a landing. They were so terrified that it would ‘get’ them, that they refused to disembark from the plane and had to be forced off!

Sure, public art often arouses controversy. Perhaps that’s part of the plan- the way it should be. But isn’t there a line that should be drawn? As an artist, would you want to create something that the vast majority of people despise? Even sign petitions to have removed and destroyed? I know I wouldn’t.

But should the electric-blue stallion ever actually be ousted from his position at the Denver Airport, he may still find one friend: Paul Bunyan. After all, didn’t that man already have a giant blue ox?