Police Memorial sculptor Moroles dies in June accident

Tom Kennedy

Artist Jesus Bautista Moroles designed and constructed the Houston Police Officers’ Memorial on Memorial Drive in the shadows of the downtown skyline in 1990. The granite sculpture, shaped like a Greek cross and consisting of five stepped pyramids, is dedicated to 113 HPD officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

The renowned Texas sculptor, a Corpus Christi native who lived in Rockport, died June 15 in a vehicle crash on Interstate 35 north of Georgetown. He was 64. Moroles was widely recognized in Texas and throughout the United States for his granite sculptures.

The wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial during Police Week each year in May pays special tribute to fallen officers.

From all indications in the wake of his death, Moroles was in the prime of his artistic career.

“He was going to be our featured artist in August,” said gallery director Bradley Sabin told the news media. “Now it’s totally up in the air.”

Moroles created both monumental and smaller scale works in granite. He received the 2008 National Medal of Arts and was the 2011 Texas State Artist for three-dimensional work.

“I knew Jesús for many years,” said San Antonio sculptor Bill Fitzgibbons. “I always found him very generous of spirit and supportive of other sculptors. He was one of a kind, and I will greatly miss his friendship.

“In terms of granite, I don’t know anybody who could sculpt and create pieces out of that material the way that Jesús could,” Fitzgibbons added. “I would say that he was not only one of the best sculptors in Texas, but in the United States.”

Moroles has a public piece at the Southwest School of Art, as well as “River Stelae,” a sculpture consisting of three monumental slabs of granite near the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Moroles once said of his sculpture: “My work is 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.”

The $630,000 police memorial was given by the citizens of Houston with significant contributions from Houston Endowment, the Wortham Foundation, the Linbeck Foundation, the Knox Foundation, the Cullen Foundation, Fayez Sarofim and Co., the Rockwell Fund, the Brown Foundation, the M. D. Anderson Foundation Fayez Sarofim and Co., the Rockwell Fund, the Brown Foundation, the M. D. Anderson Foundation, the Scurlock Foundation, Neva West and Albert and Margret Alkek. The wreath-laying ceremony at the site during Police Week each year in May pays special tribute to fallen officers.