Denver Airport's Blue Mustang Draws Wild Reaction

Rearing 32 feet high, the metallic blue mustang sculpture demands the attention of every traveler through Denver International Airport.

But the wild look of "Mustang" is prompting some to wonder if the sculpture installed just a year ago should be moved somewhere less prominent. Alternate monikers suggested for the horse with the glowering eyes include "Bluecifer," "Satan's Steed" and "Blue Devil Horse."

"What exactly was the deal with that horse?" said Rachel Hultin, a Denver real estate agent who's behind a Facebook site that derides the sculpture.

About 28 million travelers last year passed by the rearing blue horse, located south of the main terminal.

"It's not the image you want in your head as you're about to board a plane," said Christie Carlson of the Denver suburb of Thornton. "My daughter asked me 'Is that the devil's horse?'"

Stan Ryland, a business development manager from Huntington Beach, California, isn't bothered by the horse's look.

"That's what horses in the wild look like," he said as he waited to board a plane Saturday. "They survived the wilderness and the mean ones led the pack."

The city of Denver commissioned the fiberglass sculpture from New Mexico artist Luis Jimenez in 1993, two years before the airport opened. His 1969 sculpture "Man on Fire" and 1990's "Vaquero" have been displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In 2006, Jimenez was killed when a section of the unfinished horse fell from a hoist at his Hondo, New Mexico, studio. Jimenez's sons, Adan and Orion, completed the sculpture, which was installed Feb. 11, 2008.

"We worked very closely with the artist's family," said Erin Trapp, director of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs. "I don't think that anybody ever considered not finishing."

Jimenez's widow, Susan Jimenez, said the original proposal was for a sculpture of a buffalo stampede. That was rejected because buffalo were hunted to near extinction in the West.

Jimenez then proposed the mustang — wild horses that symbolize the West and provided long distance travel, like airplanes today.

Trapp said any petition to move the sculpture would not be considered until 2013, a city policy designed to give people a chance to get used to new public art. "People's relationships with art change over time. It's something you have to live with before you really appreciate it," Trapp said.

Hultin hopes Denver will move the sculpture to another part of town where anyone can learn more about it.

"It's not a piece of art that people are going to shrug off," Hultin said. "It's sparked a pretty passionate conversation."

That's exactly what Jimenez wanted, his widow said.

"That's what art is supposed to be. It's supposed to be memorable and it has to evoke a feeling," Susan Jimenez said. "The worst thing for him would have been to be ignored."