Who Cares For Art Home Page
Student Home Page

Lesson 4 : Many Viewpoints / Part 1: Controversy

Community Controversy

People with different viewpoints have expressed very different opinions about the value of Luis Jiménez' sculpture. So far two casts of the Southwest Pieta have been installed in public spaces. Both met with so much controversy that they each were ultimately installed in sites different from the locations for which they were originally planned.

Art curators are scholars who know a great deal about certain kinds of art. Many are art historians. They often work at museums. Among other things they select and organize artworks for exhibitions.

Ellen J. Landis curated an exhibition called Luis Jiménez': Man on Fire: Luis Jiménez: El Hombre en Llamas at the Albuquerque Museum. In the exhibition catalog she wrote:

"He pulls no punches. …. The common response to his work is one of comparative adjectives: larger than life, brighter, bolder, bigger."

For over a year, people with very different viewpoints debated the meaning of the Southwest Pieta and whether it should be installed in Old Town Albuquerque.

James Moore, the director of the Albuquerque Museum, described the controversy in his community:

"Arguments raged over this commission…. Media attention was intense; letters to the editor accumulated. Sides were taken, lines were drawn, battles fought, and in the process many things were learned about the multi-cultural make-up of Albuquerque and in particular the unique complexities of the Spanish-speaking community of New Mexico."

Lucy Lippard is a nationally-known art critic and thinker who has written many books and articles about a variety of types of art. She wrote:

"Because the sculpture was projected for Old Town, the historic and tourist center of Albuquerque, Jiménez focused on a Native American legend meaningful to Mestizo Mexico, slyly commenting on the nature of Hispanic class and identity in New Mexico."