Each year for the past 21 years, the Rio Grande International Study Center has helped Laredo celebrate Dia del Rio as a way to remind all of us that the Rio Grande remains our only source of drinking water, and thus, our source of life.
For the first time ever, RGISC will provide a permanent reminder to the community of this natural resource and all that it sustains. These five murals will offer Laredoans a sense of magical realism as it combines the powerful worlds of art and nature.
This public art project was done through a collaboration with Councilman Charlie San Miguel and the artist community. The site chosen was North Central Park, a beloved park whose conception arose through the active involvement of RGISC staff and board members to save Manadas Creek in the early 2000's.
This community art project was made possible through the support and investment of our sponsors: HEB, Wal-Mart, Sherwin Williams and Dick Blick Art Supplies.
We also express our thanks to Gayle Aker Rodriguez, owner of Gallery 201, and the many other artists, including high school art students, who participated in this exciting community endeavor.
Please see below for a chronicle of the organization, creation, and unveiling of the 21st annual DDR Public Art Mural Project at North Central Park.
All photos courtesy of RGISC
July 30, 2015: In preparation for Dia del Rio 2015, RGISC called out to local artists with experience in painting murals to attend our public art meeting at the Laredo Center for the Arts. The public art pieces will aim to educate and engage people into knowing more about our local ecosystems, wildlife, and the Rio Grande. Goals were set, a timeline was created, and the ball got rolling. EXCITING!!
September 10, 2015: We are excited to launch our Dia del Rio 2016 mural project in October with Councilman Charlie San Miguel. These nature-themed murals will focus on our river and local birds, plants, and wildlife. It's the first time that we do this type of project. Thank you to Gayle Aker Rodriguez of Gallery 201 and ALL our of incredibly creative artists - Tony Briones, Sandra Gonzalez, Candice Saenz, Shelle Laurent, Ashley Tristan, Erika Buentello, Mauro C. Martinez, and Gustavo Estrada.
September 26, 2015: And so today we began this great October project of creating nature-themed murals for this great city of Laredo, as part of the 21st annual Dia del Rio celebration, organized by our organization, Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC). Woooohoooo!!
Thank you to the muralists: Tony Briones, Mauro C. Martinez, Gustavo Estrada, Candice Saenz, Sandra Gonzalez, and Erika Buentello.
Thank you to all of of the volunteers assisting these artists with these murals and to Alberto Sandoval from our office (RGISC) for organizing the many details involved with this project.
Thank you to our generous sponsors, and last but definitely not least, Councilman Charlie San Miguel for his enthusiastic support of this worthwhile community project.
October 7, 2015: RGISC press conference this morning with Councilman Charlie San Miguel and artists who have started work on our Dia del Rio 2015 public art and mural project at North Central Park. Grand unveiling in November. Thank you to sponsors H-E-B, Wal-Mart, Dick Blick Art Supplies, and Sherwin Williams! Not pictured: muralists Tony Briones, Mauro C. Martinez, and Gustavo Estrada.
October 29, 2015: What started out as a new idea for the integration of art and the environment transformed into a large community effort. The artists have been hard at work covering the walls of North Central Park with environmentally-themed murals. Some of the artists have recruited their students to help realize their vision. In other instances, community members that just happened to be strolling by would become so engaged by the artists' work that they would volunteer to paint portions of the murals!
October 30, 2015: Three cheers for the local artists involved in the mural project at North Central Park! We hope to see you at our unveiling on November 21st--stay tuned for the event details.
November 28, 2015: A big heartfelt thank you to the seven artists (Tony Briones, Sandra Gonzalez, Erika Buentello, Candice Saenz, Mallory Miles, Gustavo Estrada, Mauro C. Martinez), Councilman Charlie San Miguel, and everyone who attended our mural unveiling at North Central Park this past Saturday, as part of the 2015 Dia Del Rio celebration-- to celebrate art, the environment, Manadas Creek, the river, RGISC, and those who supported and made the creation of this park and mural project possible. Mil gracias.
Meet the Artists Behind the Murals
From L - R: Alberto Sandoval, Candice Saenz, Sandra Gonzalez, Councilman Charlie San Miguel, Erika Buentello, The Ghost, Mallory Miles, Tony Briones, and Tricia Cortez. Not pictured: Mauro C. Martinez
Antonio “Tony” Briones Tony was born and raised in Laredo and graduated from Martin HS in 1985. He taught art for 17 years and has been a public artist in the Houston area for the past 20 years. His extensive experience with murals includes commissions for the City of Houston, Houston Metropolitan Authority, San Antonio Housing Authority, Laredo National Bank, Houston ISD and Gallery 201 among others.
Erika Buentello Erika is a native Laredoan and a local artist and art educator. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in Painting and Drawing. Her work has been featured in numerous Texas art shows and exhibits and she has created several indoor and outdoor murals for her hometown. She has been an active advocate for art in Laredo and is currently engaged in a year-long chronicle of her 2015 Daily Painting project, which you can follow through her personal website, Flynn Craft House (www.flynncrafthouse.com).
Sandra Gonzalez Sandra Gonzalez was born and raised in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and moved to Laredo in 2000. It was during a high school art class where she discovered her passion for painting and consequently won two State Art Awards. In 2013, she received a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her recent professional occupations include assisting with the creation and installation of murals for The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and teaching art workshops at different institutions in Philadelphia. She recently started teaching art at United ISD.
Mauro C. Martinez Mauro C. Martinez is an artist living and working in Laredo. His paintings are an exploration of the various facets of the human condition. Find his work online at www.maurocmartinez.com
Candice Saenz Candice Saenz is a classically trained painter and photographer born and raised in San Antonio and transplanted to Laredo’s Santo Niño neighborhood. Her focus on bright color and contrasting compositions draws inspiration from all that is life.
The Ghost Local street artist The Ghost is a self-taught artist from Laredo. His style is a mash up of Urban pop culture and Mexican popular culture. He wants to introduce color and art to our younger generations and bring awareness about the importance of our environment.
In addition to the muralists, another artist working on this public art project is:
Mallory Miles At 5-years-old, Mallory was taught to crochet by her grandmother, Doratha Hovermale. Since then, she has spent the past 23 years looking for new, interesting ways to use yarn. If you're in the right place at the right time, you may spot one of her yarn bombs that add an unexpected pop of color to our beautiful community. Learn more about her & follow her work by searching for The Knotty Redhead on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Rio Grande International Study Center 1 West End Washington St. Bldg P-11, Laredo, Texas