Three local artists will be painting the town red — and blue and green and yellow — this summer, as part of a citywide community mural project spearheaded by the San Antonio Museum of Art. And in true community spirit, it’s San Antonio residents who get to vote on which artworks will leave a lasting impression.
SAMA has chosen three San Antonio artists to create neighborhood murals at businesses on the East Side, West Side, and SAMA’s campus that celebrate the vibrance and community of the Alamo City. The artists will start creating their works in July, with the completed murals expected to be unveiled August 15.
The community mural project — supported by a SAMA grant from the nonprofit Art Bridges Foundation and a joint effort between SAMA, the San Anto Cultural Arts, and the San Antonio African American Community Archive & Museum — aims to connect San Antonio’s culturally diverse neighborhoods and their traditions through a creative framework, honoring the importance of community through art.
And throughout the month of June, locals can share their thoughts about the themes, people, and historic events they’d like to see depicted in each mural. Then, from June 26-July 10, the local community can vote on one of three themes designed by each artist to create for each mural location. Voting will take place on SAMA’s website and in person at the museum.
“Murals have always been a powerful tool to educate and commemorate local histories,” says Yohanna Tesfai, public programs manager for SAMA. “By asking for community input and having residents of San Antonio be a part of the mural selection process, we are emphasizing that art is for all and that art can be enjoyed anywhere. Communal relationships are the foundation of any society, so we must continue to build and grow with the people of San Antonio. We hope that the selected businesses continue to be an anchor in their community, and that these murals shine a light on how San Antonio is a beautiful, culturally rich city.”
The mural project was inspired by the painting Bronzeville at Night by Archibald John Motley Jr., which is currently on loan to SAMA and depicts an urban Chicago neighborhood in the 1940s. In the spirit of that painting, the local artists will create murals that uniquely represent the characteristics and vitality of each San Antonio neighborhood.
The chosen artists for the mural project and their mural locations follow.
Sandra Gonzalez. Mural location: Tony G’s on the East Side, created in partnership with graphic designer Malachy McKinney
Sandra Gonzalez is an active muralist in South Texas and an art educator at Roosevelt High School in San Antonio. She often involves neighborhood groups, organizations, and the general public in most of her large-scale mural projects. She organizes community painting days, when anyone and everyone is welcome to help with mural creation, and she enjoys depicting images that speak of memories, family, emotions, and history. Her personal paintings reflect a colorful Mexican American culture and include portraits, native plants, and Mexican textiles.
Victor Zarazua. Mural location: Wicho’s Mexican Deli on the West Side
As a practitioner of the graffiti art subculture, Victor Zarazua started painting at the age of 10. During high school, he discovered SACA and Say Si, two local programs that enabled him to delve further into the arts and the “lowbrow” art movement. Later, he would curate large public art festivals. His passion is creating and producing large works, and his work has grown to include stained glass, abstract, and post-graffiti influences. He is also the mural coordinator for San Anto Cultural Arts.
Suzy González. Mural location: San Antonio Museum of Art Campus
Suzy González is an artist, curator, zine creator, educator, and organizer who has had solo exhibits at a variety of galleries and attended residencies in Texas, the U.S., and beyond. She is the co-publisher of the Yes, Ma’am zine, co-organizes the San Anto Zine Fest, and is half of the collective Dos Mestizx, who recently curated “XicanX: New Visions” in New York and Texas. She has created public art with the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Street Art Initiative, Centro San Antonio, and the City of San Marcos, and is currently working on a project with the City of Pasadena.