Civic Art



  • Vaquero, 1980
  • Luis Jimenez (1940 - 2006)
  • Acrylic urethane, fiberglass, steel armature, 199 x 114 x 67 in.
  • Edition 1 of 5 plus an artist's proof

Commissioned by the Art in Public Places Program, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Houston.

Located in Moody Park, 3725 Fulton, 77009

Luis Jimenez was born in El Paso, and grew up working with his father at the family's neon sign shop. He studied art and architecture at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1960's. His work draws influence from Latin-American, Southwestern, and popular culture. As is often the case with public art, Vaquero was originally met with resistance by a portion of the community. Some perceived of the sculpture as an unfair representation of Latin-Americans as inherently violent. Jimenez conceived of Vaquero as both a parody of traditional equestrian statues, in which a hero is signified by his sword or gun, and a commentary on the discounted influence of Mexican cowboys in the history of the American West. The sculpture is widely considered among his most iconic work. In 1990, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. purchased an artist's proof of Vaquero. The sculpture is on display outside the entrance to the museum, and has become an emblem of the collection. Jimenez completed many public art commissions, and is represented in private and institutional collections and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D. C., the Chicago Art Institute, the Denver Art Museum, and many other museums. In 1998, he was named Texas Artist of the Year by the Houston Art League.

Vaquero Before and After


June 2009 -- HAA is pleased to announce the completion of conservation work on Luis Jimenez's Vaquero (pictured) in Moody Park. The work, installed in 1980, is a fiberglass form honoring the work of vaqueros and their horses, and a delightful refresher on the tradition of hero on equestrian statuary.

The sculpture was cleaned and re-painted matching the artist's original color palette for this work. Houston's Vaquero is the first in an edition of five sculptures. Each version in the edition is painted distinctly; the Moody Park one is unique. A sixth version, the "artist's proof" currently resides in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C.

All paint and pigments have a tendency to fade in sunlight. A permanent outdoor sculpture with a painted surface such as Vaquero requires constant monitoring and the occasional upkeep of its vibrant colors which are essential to the artist's expression of "vitality" in much of his imagery and the cultural heritage of the City.