Denver’s Most Reviled Public Art

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A piece of public art that people love to hate is turning five. We’re talking about the blue mustang at the Denver International Airport, the rearing 32-foot tall horse with glowing red eyes. It’s been reported in the newspaper and on TV that the five-year mark opens up the possibility a piece can be removed. Those reports are based on this line in city policy: "Generally, artwork will not be removed from the public display sooner than five years after installation." Michael Chavez, who manages public art for Denver, says that line refers to pieces that become too costly to maintain or that pose a public safety hazard. "To be clear," he says, "there are no plans to remove the mustang from the airport."

That’s disappointing news to the horse’s critics, who think it’s jarring, unwelcoming and out of place. A few years ago, one of its detractors, Rachel Hultin, came on CPR to talk about her Facebook page, "DIA’s Heinous Blue Mustang Has Got to Go.” She put a call out for some harsh haiku about the mustang. Here are three.

Blue body and red eyes

it’s ugly enough to kill

Welcome to Denver

Don’t look at my eyes

You will die by evil fire

And never fly again

Nasty blue privates

Deadly glowing evil eyes

it killed its maker

“It killed its maker.” That’s true. The mustang’s creator, Luis Jimenez, bled to death after a section of the horse fell on top of him.

Michael Chavez says this sculpture seems to thrive on publicity; the more people talk about it, the more popular it becomes. So it’s no wonder Chavez's office runs free tours to educate people about Denver's large collection of public art. Amanda Renaud runs those tours. Host Ryan Warner speaks with Amanda about Denver’s least and most beloved pieces.

[Photos courtesy Denver Public Art Program]

1. Mustang by Luis Jimenez, 2008

2. Dancers by Jonathan Borofsky, 2003

3. Prairie Dogs by Judith Stewart, 2006

4. I See What You Mean by Lawrence Argent, 2005