Luis Jiménez: Native Son
El Paso Museum of Art
February 9 through May 25, 2014
Luis Jiménez: Native Son will open to the public Sunday, February 9, 2014 in the Peter and Margaret de Wetter Gallery at the El Paso Museum of Art. Entrance to the Museum and this exhibition are free to the public.
Complementing the museum’s concurrent retrospective devoted to Gaspar Enríquez, the smaller exhibition Luis Jiménez: Native Son features work from the permanent collection by an artist who served as an important role model to Enriquez. Significantly, both Enríquez and Jiménez before him served as significant mentors for a variety of Chicano artists in the region.
Sometimes called the “Godfather” of Chicano art, Luis Jiménez was born and raised in El Paso as the son of an immigrant father from Mexico. He went on to become one of El Paso’s first artists to gain national recognition. A sculptor, printmaker, and draftsman, Jiménez specialized in fiberglass and epoxy sculptures, lithographs and etchings, and colored-pencil drawings. In his art Jiménez celebrated humanity and his Mexican-American heritage.
Luis Jiménez: Native Son features lithographs and drawings ranging in subject from humans to animals, and including finished works as well as detail studies for the monumental figural sculpture Sodbuster (completed 1981). Variously narrative or allegorical, the images illustrate Jiménez’s attention to nature, humanity, the life of immigrants, and the world of the barrio.
One of the large color drawings in the exhibition was a commission by the Guild of the EPMA Association for the design of a poster announcing the exhibition Raíces antiguas, visiones nuevas = Ancient Roots, New Visions, which toured nationally in 1977-78. Jiménez utilized many of his prints to investigate ideas for sculpture, and Alligator Study relates to the monumental sculpture he created for the central square of El Paso, affectionately known as “La Plaza de los Lagartos.” The lithograph was gifted to the museum in 1995 by Frank Ribelin. Finally, in addition to Jiménez’s drawings and prints, the exhibition includes the 1996–98 fiberglass maquette for Fireman. Depicting a fireman shooting a hose onto a large flame, the composition expresses Jiménez’s admiration for ordinary workers. Notably, it also serves as an allegorical self-portrait of the artist, who learned to weld and airbrush in his father’s El Paso neon-sign shop.
El Paso Museum of Art
The El Paso Museum of Art is located at One Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, Texas 79901. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m., and extended hours on Thursday until 9 p.m. For more information visit elpasoartmuseum.org