by Michael Granberry, via dallasnews.comJesús Moroles, a renowned Texas sculptor who had shown his work in solo exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Latino Cultural Center, died Monday night in a car wreck on Interstate 35 near Jarrell, Texas, 15 miles north of Georgetown, his associate confirmed Tuesday. He was 64.
He was born to cotton farmers in Corpus Christi, where he, too, toiled in the fields before being educated at El Centro College and the University of North Texas. Moroles created monumental and smaller-scale works in granite. His work earned him the 2008 National Medal of Arts, and for his three-dimensional creations, the 2011 Texas State Artist award.
Moroles’ signature pieces include the 2005 Gateway Stele at Lubben Plaza in Dallas and his 1987 piece Lapstrake, which sits in CBS Plaza in New York City, across from the Museum of Modern Art.
“In terms of granite, I don’t know anybody who could sculpt and create pieces out of that material the way that Jesús could,” sculptor Bill Fitzgibbons told the San Antonio Express-News. “I would say that he was not only one of the best sculptors in Texas, but in the United States.”
Jed Morse, curator of the Nasher Sculpture Center, said he was “incredibly saddened by the news of Jesús Moroles’ tragic death. Jesús was a great sculptor and tireless arts advocate. He dedicated the majority of his career to a single material — granite — and made that material sing, often playing his abstract carved stone compositions like musical instruments.”
Missy Finger, who with husband Burt co-owns Photographs Do Not Bend in the Dallas Design District, where Moroles had staged exhibitions, said, “Texas has lost one of its great artists.”
She called Moroles “a big guy, with a big heart, a teddy bear. He thought big, constantly challenging himself to create the impossible in granite. He created large sculpture parks and small tabletop sculptures. Nothing too big or small for him.”
Santiago Nezarez, Moroles’ assistant at his studio in Rockport, said that as recently as Thursday, the artist had shipped to the Hall Arts project in Dallas his latest creation, Spirit Inner Columns, a massive piece with 15-foot-high columns, made of granite. He had come home Sunday night for jury duty Monday and was driving north to Oklahoma, Nezarez said, when the accident occurred on I-35.
Moroles once characterized his work as “a discussion of how man exists in nature and touches nature and uses nature. Each of my pieces has about 50 percent of its surfaces untouched and raw — those are parts of the stone that were torn. The rest of the work is smoothed and polished. The effect, which I want people to not only look at but touch, is a harmonious coexistence of the two.”
His survivors include his parents, Jose E. Moroles and Maria Moroles of Rockport; his daughter, Jessica Christian Moroles, who lives in Virginia; his brother, Hilario Moroles, who lives in Rockport; and his sisters, Suzanna Moroles, who lives in California; Diane Moroles, who lives in Sunnyvale, near Dallas; and Maria Christina Moroles, who lives in Arkansas.