Mansfield News-Mirror

‘Very cool’ sand sculpture honors slain Dallas officers in Mansfield

Joaquin Cortez has been working a week on a sand sculpture in Mansfield to honor the five Dallas officers killed in a July 7 ambush.
Joaquin Cortez has been working a week on a sand sculpture in Mansfield to honor the five Dallas officers killed in a July 7 ambush. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Joaquin Cortez is an artist on a mission.

One summer he saw people littering all the beaches at South Padre Island, so he decided to sculpt a recycling bin out of sand — and people started using it.

“I want to create sculptures that mean something,” Cortez said.

His latest contribution is a sand memorial to honor the five Dallas officers killed in an ambush on July 7.

The sculpture, crafted out of 10 cubic yards of sand, takes the form of an American bald eagle holding a Dallas police badge and has the names of the five fallen officers inscribed on the back. It stands more than 6 feet tall in a landscape bed outside of Ray’s Pharmacy at the corner of East Broad Street and Cannon Drive in Mansfield.

“Maybe it will inspire someone,” said Cortez, 37.

I love that he’s out here doing this. Everyone honors our heroes in different ways and this is very cool.

Susan Allen of Lewisville

Onlookers have been inspired — and intrigued.

“I love that he’s out here doing this,” said Susan Allen of Lewisville. “Everyone honors our heroes in different ways, and this is very cool.”

Cortez said he got the idea to create the sculpture in Mansfield after he met the manager of Ray’s Pharmacy in his hometown of Stephenville around the Fourth of July, when he was finishing up another bald eagle.

Cortez used a variety of tools, from shovels to trowels. He said with proper care and a spray coat of special glue, the memorial could potentially remain in its place for six months to a year.

“I haven’t had a lot of trouble with people messing with my sculptures,” Cortez said. “I’ve had a lot of respect.”

Cortez has been an artist most of his life and used to create graphics for businesses.

His interest in sand sculptures came after meeting an artist in South Padre on a family vacation. He began traveling around the country two years ago, creating artwork.

“I’ve given up everything for this,” Cortez said.

Most of his work is done on beaches across the country and he hopes to someday start a nonprofit that will use sand sculptures to raise awareness for various causes, such as keeping beaches clean.

But for now, he is focused on honoring the Dallas officers killed in Dallas: Patrick Zamarripa, Dallas police, 32; Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Dallas police, 48; Sgt. Michael Smith, Dallas police, 55; Michael Krol, Dallas police, 40; and Brent Thompson, DART police, 40.

“It takes a lot of moments to create, so I like to just step back and look at it,” he said. “Just like you guys do.”

Azia Branson; 817-390-7547, @aziabranson

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