Alligator Park aka Plaza de los Lagartos
El Paso, Texas
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, downtown El Paso's San Jacinto Plaza featured a pond filled with live alligators. They'd entertained citizens since the 1880s. The gators are long gone, but have been replaced with an impressive fountain at the Plaza de Los Lagartos (Plaza of the Alligators).
The fiberglass sculpture of a pile of colorful writhing gators is the work of the late Luis A. Jimenez, Jr. Jimenez was known for his gaudy, imaginative fiberglass polychrome figures, and we're happy he got this commission instead of some mournful cubist. The plaza sculpture was dedicated in June 1995.
On a hot August afternoon (102 degrees F) during our visit, there were only a couple of park bench denizens in the well-kept park. The central circular fountain yielded a cooling mist...making the snapping reptiles seem more alive.
Jimenez also sculpted the gargantuan blue horse at Denver International Airport (the Mustang from Hell). On June 13, 2006, the 65-year old artist was killed in a freak accident. He was working in his Hondo, NM art studio with two helpers when the mustang sculpture came loose and pinned him against a steel beam. Jimenez was driven to the nearest hospital, in Ruidoso, where he was pronounced dead.