Wicked weather delaying work on Los Lagartos statue in Ohio


POSTED: Sunday, March 9, 2014 - 9:10pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 9, 2014 - 9:37pm

Officials say statue will be restored in time for San Jacinto Plaza reopening

The Los Lagartos statue is considered a local treasure to many in the Borderland. It’s been a part of El Paso’s history for the past 20 years and despite some nasty weather holding off the restoration project, the statue will be ready to take center stage once the San Jacinto Plaza renovation is complete, according to city officials.
The Los Lagartos statue, tightly bound in packing tape and plastic, made its way to a conservator in Ohio back in September. El Paso’s Museums and Cultural Affairs Department officials have received monthly updates on the art piece.
“Because of the bad weather in Ohio they sort of have been on hold,” Jeff Howell, a Public Art CIP Associate with MCAD told us. The statue hasn’t been touched since November because of the bitter cold weather, according to MCAD. But some work has been done, “They have currently stripped the clear coat that was on it and took it down to basically the bare paint."

Los Lagartos became a part of the San Jacinto Plaza in 1993 decades after real alligators swam in the plaza. "I remember as a child, I remember the real lagartos,” Robert Lopez, a Segundo Barrio resident said. Lopez said he grew fond of the alligators, which were removed in the late 70s. "When they took them out, and I know it's not an option to bring them back, I'm glad that we're still maintaining something… a cultural tie."
Luis Jimenez, the late and prominent El Paso artist crafted the sculpture. Officials say the conservator handling Los Lagartos has also handled other Jimenez works. "These lagartos, it's important, it's art. It's art from a local artist and I think we should support that, definitely,” Lopez said. Restoration work continue later this month and last for a few months.
"To get the color matching process so that way when they do start applying the color this month, they get the colors just right,” Howell explained. Work should be done before the city unveils the newly restored plaza.
"I'm hoping that they'll get done with this project soon,” Lopez said. He and other El Pasoans will have to wait until early 2015 because that’s when city officials have said restoration will be complete. The city has said it will cost them almost $30,000 to restore the statue.

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