Don Tomas sculpture raises questions at City Council meeting

One councilmember called the talks on both sides an “embarrassment”
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 10:51 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The City of Laredo is working on righting the wrongs of a previous administration who commissioned a Don Tomas sculpture without locking down a contract.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, councilmembers met with the artist about the project’s timeline and attempted to officially secure an agreement.

However, talks grew frustrating.

“The entire affair has been an embarrassment on both parts and if we can just agree on clear timelines on when we can get the project finished,” one councilmember shared.

Questions over the Don Tomas sculpture were given a chance to be answered during the meeting.

Artist Armando Hinojosa -- along with his family -- were present to provide a timeline of the project.

Hinojosa’s son-in-law, former U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo Garcia, says projects like this take time and a lot of research into the historical details.

“For instance the type of saddle that is used, the type of weapons that are on the sculpture the sombrero that is worn, even down to the cantin all have to be historically accurate to the period of Don Tomas Sanchez,” Garcia said.

From there, a small version of the sculpture, which is called a maquette, was made and even presented to the city and unveiled during a special ceremony in January 2020.

The next step to enlarge the maquette was set to begin -- but then COVID hit.

Garcia says they are barely able to get things going again.

“Once Mr. Hinojosa gets that back he begins the process of adding all the detail and he has to add all the detail to the final version of the sculpture.”

Once that’s complete, the final step is to get it cast in bronze.

Garcia explained that it usually takes four to five years to work on a project like this, but since Hinojosa is a professional artist, he has a number of things he’s working on.

“He’s been commissioned for a number of different projects all at the same time,” the son-in-law said. “There were other projects that he was given a certain deadlines on and so as a result he had to prioritize some of those projects. Please keep in mind all of Mr. Hinojosa’s projects are important and precious him.”

They say typically their clients provide a contract with a deadline but when it comes to the city, nothing was ever provided.

Funding for the project is around $450,000.

$430,000 has already been spent.

At Monday’s meeting Garcia said, “Because we were locking in the prices for the different jobs. We have them contracted, and we locked them in on certain prices.”

This prompted a response from Councilmember Marte Martinez. “So, then although it hasn’t been done, we have locked them in on that price point?”

To which Garcia responded, “Mr. Hinojosa has, that’s correct.”

A finally decision was made to enter into agreement with Hinojosa to have the project ready by August 25th, 2022 -- the founding day of Laredo -- and to get updates every three months.

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