Apr 22

Placing the Tejano Monument into Texas History

Governor Perry addresses the crowd at the unveiling of the Tejano Monument

On Thursday, March 29, 2012, the Tejano Monument’s 12-year journey, from conception to completion, ended with its placing on the south lawn of the Capitol grounds. A mariachi group greeted the enthusiastic crowd, which numbered over a thousand including a number of Texas dignitaries and Governor Rick Perry.

Gov. Perry’s speech highlighted the significance of the project noting, “This important monument reflects a larger truth about the origins of Texas, about the contributions of so many Hispanic citizens to the creation of the state we love and the lives we share.”

The idea for the $2 million project was conceived when McAllen physician Cayetano Barrera visited to the Capitol, and realized that none of the 18 monuments recognized Hispanic contributions to the history of Texas. In 2001 the Texas Legislature approved the project, but the monument’s long journey to fruition ultimately required the passage of three new state laws. State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, said at the unveiling the monument looked at home on the Capitol grounds, as if it had always been there. “Perhaps it should look that way, because we’ve always been here,” said Raymond, who was the master of ceremonies of the ceremony, adding, “we are a part of Texas history, and it is a part of us.”

Tejano Monument Unveiled

Four of the life-sized bronzes included in the Tejano Monument

The Tejano Monument is the first public artwork to recognize the achievements of Tejano settlers who populated the region for hundreds of years before Anglos arrived in the early 1800s. To illustrate the historical context of the Tejano contribution to Texas history, consider these often-overlooked events in the popular narrative of Texas history: Spanish explorer Álonso Alvarez de Pineda created the first map of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1500s, and Jose Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara declared the first Republic of Texas in 1813. Lara also fought alongside the more celebrated Anglos twenty years later at the fall of the Alamo.

The Tejano influence permeates every aspect of modern Texas. Tejanos pioneered ranching and farming in the region, and many of the iconic symbols associated with Texas – food, longhorns, even the cowboy – all began with the Tejano culture.  Andrés Tijerina, a history scholar and professor at Austin Community College, noted, “Everything Texans brag about today is Tejano,” he said.

Sculpted by Armando Hinojosa of Laredo, the monument’s life-size statues depict a vaquero (cowboy) on his mustang, two longhorns and a family of settlers. Hinojosa, said the monument is the most important work of his life, indicating he worked on the project from daybreak to sundown for much of the past 11 years to get the details just right — “from the vaquero’s spurs to the mustang’s bridle.”

Armando Hinojosa with two employees of Stevens Art Foundry

Sculptor Armando Hinojosa (far left) with two employees of Stevens Art Foundry

Stevens Art Foundry, who has worked with Hinojosa on several of his other notable projects, is both proud and humbled to have cast all of the pieces in the monument, which will endure to remind all Texans of the contributions made by the Tejanos to the history of the Lone Star State.