Armando Garcia Hinojosa (born 1944) is a Latino artist and educator from Laredo, Texas, who sculpted the massive Tejano Monument on the south lawn of the state capitol in Austin. After more than a decade of preparation, the 12-piece sculpture was unveiled in March 2012.
The Tejano monument includes a Spanish explorer, a mustang-riding cowboy or vaquero, a mother and father with their newborn infant, a boy with a stubborn goat, a girl filling a water jug, and two longhorn cattle made of bronze. The statues are mounted on a granite base, which was quarried in Marble Falls, Texas. The significance of each character on the monument is described by a bronze plaque.
In 2001, Hinojosa was chosen from among several Texas artists to create the monument. He earlier sculpted the life-size “Among Friends There Are No Borders” statue at Laredo International Airport, which depicts a South Texas vaquero and a Mexican charro sharing a campfire.
The pieces were cast at the Larry Stevens foundry in Bulverde, Texas. According to Stevens, ten steps are involved in the process: "The artist sculpts it in clay, then we make a mold and fill that with wax, then we cover it with slurry, then we burn out the wax and pour in the molten bronze. There are a lot more steps. It gets pretty complicated.”
The largest on any state capitol grounds, the Tejano Monument honors native-born Hispanics since 1519, when Spaniards mapped the Texas Gulf Coast. The Texas State Legislature approved the monument in 2009. The Texas Preservation Board accepted the design without dissent in 2010. The state provided $1.087 million of the $2 million cost of the monument. The remainder was raised privately, with major contributions from the International Bank of Commerce, American Electric Power, and American Telephone and Telegraph.
Stevens estimates that the two longhorns weigh six to eight hundred pounds each. According to Stevens, “You can't learn this in art school. I learned it from a friend at a foundry in Fort Worth. It's kind of an apprenticeship. There's lots of trial and error, lots of looking, measuring, looking some more, welding, pounding. I've had to remelt a lot of pieces over my career. We make the sculptor look good, He's the artist and we're the artisans."
Stevens also worked on Hinojosa's Juan Seguin monument in Seguin, Texas, and the Knute Rockne and Ara Parseghian statues on the Notre Dame University campus in South Bend, Indiana. Hinojosa sculpted a life-sized replica of Admiral Chester Nimitz, a native Texan, which has also been placed at the San Antonio-based amusement park, Sea World. Hinojosa's Double Eagle, a depiction of the national bird of the United States, is almost 9 feet high with a 14-foot wingspan. It has been placed at another San Antonio amusement park, Six Flags, Fiesta Texas.
Hinojosa's works appear in the collections of former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and the late Texas Governors Allan Shivers, Dolph Briscoe, and William P. Clements, Jr. The legislature recognized Hinojosa in 1982-1983 as the "Official State Artist."
Hinojosa, who has worked with Stevens Foundry for several decades, is a graduate of the former Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M University, Kingsville. He is a faculty member and the dean of visual arts at the Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts in downtown Laredo, named for a late educator and state representative. He is a direct descendant of Don Thomas Sanchez, who in 1755 founded Laredo. His deceased parents were the former Amalia Garcia and Geronimo Hinojosa, who was also a painter and sculptor.
Hinojosa and his wife have three children, Dr. Armando Roberto Hinojosa, an internist in Laredo; David Andrew Hinojosa, and Melissa Joy Hinojosa.
"I always knew that my life would revolve around the creation and the appreciation of the arts," said Hinojosa.
Armando Hinojosa Drive in south Laredo is named in his honor.
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