Local historians who for more than 20 years have been trying to create Fort Worth’s first statue to honor the Hispanic culture are blazing mad now that it’s finished.

WFAA‘s Brett Shipp describes in this June 8 report how a city arts committee commissioned two Dallas artists to create a vaquero statue and requested that pistols be excluded in the design.


But the artists added a sidearm anyway, claiming historical accuracy.

A couple of years ago I wrote a Metro article about efforts to create this vaquero statue and quoted Justice of Peace Judge Manuel Valdez, the head of the Vaquero Project Committee, saying specifically that he did not want the vaquero to be packing a pistol.

Manuel described similar statues in other cities as historically inaccurate and borderline condescending because the vaqueros were depicted wearing pistols and bandoliers, which were typically worn by Mexican soldiers and bandits but not vaqueros.

The artists might be historically correct — some vaqueros no doubt wore pistols, just as American cowboys did.

But a Fort Worth committee  spent countless hours developing the idea and raising the money. They commissioned the artists and made it abundantly clear they didn’t want a pistol.

The committee involved many people, plenty of discussions, and various compromises to reach an agreement on what the statue should look like.

Valdez has asked the artists to remove the pistols from the finished statue, obviously not an easy task. The artists refused.

The city is now alleging a breach of contract.

Looks like the artists shot themselves in the foot on this one.


  1. Firearms were an integral part of life in the old west. Democratic Judge Manuel Valdez and his committee need to get over themselves. You dishonor history by trying to whitewash it to omit things that you find “offensive.

  2. Real cowboys were much more likely to carry a rifle or shotgun in a saddle scabbard than to wear a pistol on a holster.

  3. But a Fort Worth committee spent countless hours developing the idea and raising the money. They commissioned the artists and made it abundantly clear they didn’t want a pistol..
    You make a contract you are bound by it. Committee specified “no pistols”. The “Artists” can now eat the statue.

  4. Cowboys and vaqueros wore pistols for protection from their own horse. If you are thrown from your horse and your foot gets caught in the stirrup the horse will most likely get scared and start running, you need a pistol to kill the horse before the horse drags you to death. Same reason cowboys carry pistols today.

  5. “Democratic” judge? What does that have to do with a contract? Art isn’t historical, it’s art. According to the GOP Jesus packed heat too.

  6. How much did the gun fearing weenies pay? We could take up a collection and buy the statue ourselves. It looks fantastic. I don’t know what we would do with a 10 foot statue of a Vaquero, but I’d be proud to let you put it in my front lawn until we could come up with someplace better.

  7. I’m a gun nut and history maven, but I’m also a contract writer.

    If an artist is being paid to produce a piece of art according to specific detail provided by the sponsor, then that’s what they have to do, or face not getting paid. End of story.

    What they SHOULD have done was create a figure who was smoking a big fat cigar.

  8. Maybe the contract gave the artists the right to ensure historical accuracy?

    The gun was a tool for the vaquero just like for American cowboys. Why are we afraid to show a noble and accurate portrayal of a vaquero?

    If the artists had the right to adjust the final statue to be accurate and true, then display the art!

  9. I cannot believe that Judge Valdez and his committee are willing to waste time fighting whether a realistic representation of a Mexican vaquero should carry a pistol or not. The pistol was a tool of work for the Mexican vaquero, without it the sculpture would be a realistic representation of a man on a horse. I say keep the pistol, remove Judge Valdez and his committee, that should be easier than removing the pistol and a more accurate representation of common sense. Fort Worth deserves an accurate representation of a Mexican Vaquero and an accurate representation of a Judge. Case closed.

  10. At what point was the revolver added? I’m an artist…I show my client what I’m doing throughout the process in order to avoid this sort of controversy. Common sense tells me there’s more to this story.. bet ya the artists showed someone from the committee the art before the point of no return and got approval before they poured.