EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The works of the late Mexican sculptor Jose Sacal are on exhibit at a public building in El Paso, something County Judge Ricardo Samaniego says emphasizes the bicultural nature of the region.

“Coming together with the Mexican consulate and using the (County) Courthouse is very significant. We’re never had this kind of an exhibit,” Samaniego said on Friday. “We’re a binational community and the relationship with the consulate allows us to have this international flair. We are so close to each other, there is no other community that has that feeling.”

A photo of the late Mexican sculptor Jose Sacal on display at the El Paso County Courthouse (Ruben Espinoza/KTSM)
A piece by the late Mexican sculptor Jose Sacal at the El Paso County Courthouse (Ruben Espinoza/KTSM)

The interpretative bronze sculptures are on exhibit the next three months from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 1st, 11th and 12th floors of the Enrique Moreno County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio, Ave.

Mexican Consul General Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon said the traveling exhibit – which is coming from Houston and will be headed to New Mexico or Arizona next – celebrates two centuries of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States.

The U.S. on Dec. 12, 1822 recognized Mexico’s independence from Spain. On that date, President James Monroe welcomed Jose Manuel Zozaya as the first Mexican minister to the U.S., according to State Department archives.

“The framework of this exhibit is the 200 years of relations with the United States,” Ibarra said. “Here, El Paso, Las Cruces (New Mexico) and Juarez (Mexico), we are the same community. Bringing Mexican art into the community is very important for us.”

The 21 pieces depict historical figures like Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in an interpretative way. A soldier’s helmet flanks Churchill’s bust while all you see of Lincoln is his stovepipe hat, the outline of his beard wrapped by a heavy chain symbolizing slavery.

Samaniego said he and Ibarra are supporters of the Mexican American Cultural Center initiative in El Paso – a planned space to promote and exhibit Mexican American art and culture.