One of the University of New Mexico’s most visible displays of public art, Luis Jimenez’ “Fiesta Jarabe,” was recently restored, and is a vibrant part of UNM’s large art collection from world-class artists.
The sculpture is more commonly known as “Fiesta Dancers” and sits on UNM’s Cornell Mall. It’s bright colors and distinctive style is one of the first public art pieces greeting UNM visitors.
Luis Jimenez’ work depicts a strong couple in a jarabe dance, which is traditional to Mexico. The sculpture was installed in 1993 and is an example of one of the many world-class art pieces available for the UNM community to enjoy.
Jimenez is known for his fiberglass sculptures that deal with his hispanic and Southwestern cultural heritage that draws on his experience as the son of working-class Mexican migrants. An active artist from the 1960s until his death in 2006, Jimenez’ work is showcased throughout the United States, but his catalogue contains a notable presence in New Mexico.
Jimenez was from El Paso, Texas, but spent a large portion of his life in New Mexico. A recipient of national awards as well as the New Mexico Governor’s Award in 1993, his work is not only showcased on UNM’s campus, but also in multiple places around Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The UNM Newsroom reports that the sculpture had not been restored since its original instillation in 1993. According to Arif Khan, the UNM Art Museum director, the management of UNM’s large art collection is rather complicated, but involves a Public Art Committee that has some authority over resource allocation for maintaining public art pieces on campus.
Khan notes that maintenance of UNM’s art collection is not the responsibility of a central agency, but is divided among multiple departments and agencies throughout the University, and usually is based on the physical location of the piece.
The restoration was completed thanks to the UNM Art Museum and Silo Workshop. The workshop carried out the restoration work which took longer than expected. The vibrant sculpture’s commanding presence on campus was long overdue for restoration. Moving forward, UNM Students will assist in continuing to preserve the sculpture.
For more information on UNM’s public art collection, visit Zimmerman Library’s website.
Sophia Sambrano is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sambsoph.