No, Jess didn’t die. Unfortunately that is how most of my fellow alumni make it to these pages. Maybe this will be a new trend for me, creating posts about living people.
I’ve been wanting to write something about Jess for a long time, ever since he sent sent me the short book he put together about living on Mojave Street. I put it off and then almost forgot but then yesterday Linda Monroe reminded me about what a great story Jess would make. I guess that is the problem. I’m not sure I can do his story justice. I’m going to do my best and come back and revise it when the mood strikes me.
Jess graduated from Trona High School in 1959. His accomplishments make me feel very humble about my own life.
The information attached to the video above and the video say it better than I ever could:
An instructor of life modeling and 3-D design at SDSU for more than 25 years, Jess Dominguez’s work can be seen all over campus.
The War Memorial at Aztec Green, the statue of President Black near the Old Quad and a relief at the Lipinsky Tower are all his creations. He is volunteering his time and talent for the Coryell bust project.
“I want to keep doing things for the university as long as I can contribute,” he said, “and this one is very special.”
Last year, Dominguez sculpted a bust of football coach Don Coryell. (http://universe.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscen…)
Dominguez said sculpture is intended to be more representational than literal. It should capture a subject’s essence more than a literal likeness that, for example, a figure in a wax museum might represent.
“It’s not supposed to look like a death mask, it’s supposed to look like a sculpture with tool marks and imperfections,” he said.
Before Dominguez casts a final version of a sculpture he tries to have family members or someone close to the subject approve the work.
Jess has come a long way from that house that was on the other side of the tracks on Mojave Street where his family once lived. When I talked to Jess he reminded me of the salted jelly candy that my dad would bring home from work. I didn’t know it but Jess told me that AP&CC would give the candy to the workers. He said that some of the men in the plant would throw their candy over the fence to the kids that were playing on Mojave Street. If I had known that I might have gotten to know Jess much sooner. I loved that salty candy.
Actually I was forbidden by my mother to visit Mojave Street. At that time racism still had a strong hold on the minds of many Americans, including my mother. It wasn’t so much racism as a lack of understanding.
Jess’s book about Trona tells about how his father would find remnants of grain in boxcars that they would sweep up and use as feed for their chickens and how his mother would pass food through a hole in the plant fence so her husband could have a warm lunch at work. Or maybe that was from when we talked?
He also gives credit to his art teacher Lois Pratt for encouraging him to continue with his art. Jess is making a bronze plaque now for the Centennial which will incorporate high points in Trona, like Austin Hall and Valley Wells.
I didn’t know Jess very well. The Dominguez that I knew and that I looked up to at the time was Jess’s older brother, Ernesto. Ernesto was one of my brother’s best friends and since I always looked up to my older brother he and and all his friends were heros in my eyes.
I reserve the right to come back and revise this as I feel the need and I can truly say I’m sorry for postponing writing this for so long.
For more about Jess read: