San Antonio is a city that loves its murals. But there's something about the West Side, where public art often illustrates the community's Hispanic heritage. One such mural is La Música De San Anto, created by artist David Blancas for the nonprofit group San Anto Cultural Arts.
The organizer's founder, Manuel Castillo, had dreamt of a mural depicting renowned local musicians and singers all gathering to perform in a special show. It was a vision Blancas would eventually complete for Castillo, who died from illness before the mural could be finished.
A native of northern Mexico, Blancas has built a career crafting both public and private artistic commissions, with a focus on murals, portraits, and mosaics. He is also the director and lead muralist with Project Inspire: Mural Arts Program, and is owner of Pintura Artwork Co., a local studio and art gallery.
In 2009, all of these skills and experiences helped Blancas and his crew of nearly 30 artists produce the near-iconic 141-foot-by-17-foot mural at 1303 West Commerce St. on the side of bail bond business.
Not only was it the 37th community mural that San Anto Cultural Arts commissioned, but it was a significant addition to the collection of colorful public artworks that can be found throughout the West Side.
Equally colorful are the legendary San Antonio musical personalities featured on the mural — Doug Sahm, Rosita Fernandez, Lydia Mendoza, Eva Garza, Felix Villarreal, Clifford Scott, Valerio Longoria, and Randy Garibay. They stand larger than life along with a depiction of Castillo, who himself was a musician, artist, and longtime advocate for San Antonio creatives.
Like other murals, La Música De San Anto has sustained weathering over the years, and the time has come for a bit of touching up.
A five-month-long restoration of the mural began in August, with Blancas leading the way. He has teamed up with La Printeria, a neighborhood printmaking venture, San Anto Cultural Arts, Alamo Colleges' Westside Education and Training Center, and Westside Development Corp. Together, they plan to finish restoring La Música De San Anto by the end of this year. The restoration is also accepting donations through the project website.
This year, the holiday season will bring with it a renewed sense of hope to the community — and a new future for this special West Side mural.