Luis Jiménez teaches at the
University of Houston, where he sometimes draws with his students.
On Fridays he visits his mother in her home in El Paso, where
he draws her while they socialize.
His drawing of his mother has led him
to begin an etching with her as its subject.
Some ideas for artworks come from childhood
memories. Jiménez grew up in a working class family
in the bordertown of El Paso.
Some of the ideas for his artworks
come out of experiences growing up Mexican-American, or Chicano.
In Texas before World War II, there were separate entrances
and restrooms for Mexican Americans. Mexican-Americans were
not allowed to eat in the same restaurants as other Texans.
Luis' mother's father had been a mayor
in Mexico. During the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s
his family barely escaped to the United States with their
lives. When Pancho Villa rode through town, he lined up men,
including Luis' great uncle, and shot them in the street.
Luis' mother, then only 5 years old, escaped in a railroad
boxcar with surviving family members.
After they settled in El Paso, Luis'
grandfather worked as a finish carpenter to support his family.
When commissioned by the City of El
Paso to make a public sculpture for its downtown plaza, Luis
drew on childhood memories of the plaza where he and his mother
and grandmother walked among its huge trees and where they
visited the live alligator exhibit. They stopped at the plaza
to catch a streetcar to shop in Juarez, across the border
Though the great trees and alligator
exhibit are long gone, Jiménez' sculpture recalls an
earlier time when the plaza was called the plaza of the alligators.