Luis Jimenez - Lagartos
American, 1940 - 2006
Lagartos, 1994
Lithograph, 39 x 55 inches
Edition 22/50
Landfall Press

Alumni Gift

Luis Jimenez is primarily known for his large-scale fiberglass sculptures that celebrate the lives of working class Hispanics. Jimenez designed his fiberglass sculptures by making dozens of sketches, finished working drawings, and full-scale clay models. The son of an illegal Mexican immigrant, Jimenez worked in his father's neon sign shop, where he learned the use bold color and fluid design.

In addition to numerous public commissions, Jimenez's work is included in the collections of the New Mexico Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In June 2006, Jimenez died from injuries sustained in his studio when part of a monumental sculpture he was creating for the Denver International Airport fell on him.

"I grew up in El Paso, Texas, which, as an original Mexican city, was built around a central plaza. The official name of the plaza was San Jacinto, but unofficially it was called Plaza de Los Lagartos or the Plaza of the Alligators. In the center of the plaza was a pond that was surrounded by old elms and ash trees. Someone had donated money to the city to put alligators in the pond. They were sluggish fellows who mostly lounged around in the sun.

Over the years, El Paso fell on hard times and the park deteriorated. They cut down the trees and shipped the alligators to the zoo. Then, as part of an urban renewal effort in the 1980s, the city approached me about making a piece of sculpture for the plaza. I said, 'Let's bring back the alligators' and decided to put them in a fountain the city had installed in the plaza. I wanted to give the alligators life and drama, so I entangled them and made them twist and turn like figures in a great Baroque sculpture from the 17th century."