El Paso

El Paso Times: Artist behind XII Travelers project has died

John Houser was 82

EL PASO, Texas - The artist behind the XII Travelers statue project has died.

The El Paso Times is reporting Friday that sculptor John Houser had suffered a heart attack a year ago and died on Wednesday.

ABC-7 last reported in 2013 that Houser was working with his son on the fourth statue in the Travelers series.

He spoke to ABC-7 at the unveiling of a maquette, or a small-scale version, of the statue of Benito Juarez, the former president of Mexico.

"On the bench you can see Benito Juarez as a child suddenly aware of the person he'll become," Houser told ABC-7. "He's looking over at the president next to him and he's so surprised he drops his book." 

That was the fourth of 12 statues Houser was working to complete for the travelers project.

Other statues include Fray García de San Francisco, the founder of the Pass of the North in 1659, El Paso settler Susan Magoffin and an equestrian statue at the airport.

For years, controversy swirled around and delayed completion of the 36-foot statue that was originally named after Don Juan de Oñate. 

The XII Travelers website doesn't address Houser's death, but the Times reported that the board president wants to talk to Houser's son and fellow sculptor Ethan to see how best to move forward. Ethan Houser told the Times in an email that the Benito Juarez monument is in progress.

The Travelers website states that it will be installed at the Chamizal National Memorial.

Houser was 82 years old.

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