Originally published in the San Antonio Report
On a cloudy Friday afternoon, mural artist Rudy Herrera slowly lowered himself from his lofty perch on a Genie S-125 construction lift to the asphalt of a parking lot beside the Kress building downtown. Herrera was preparing to add the finishing touches to the largest mural he has yet painted, 50 feet wide and stretching nearly 100 feet high on the nine-story wall.
Herrera’s mural, located on East Houston Street between Navarro and Jefferson streets, is only one of a growing number of ambitious murals orchestrated by the Centro San Antonio downtown advocacy group, which is taking its “Art Everywhere” initiative quite literally.
Since last May, Centro has spearheaded an assortment of murals downtown, with several more in the planning stages: an open call for art to decorate the Alameda Theater during construction, and a soon-to-be-launched call for 10 more large-scale public artworks in partnership with the CAUSA arts advocacy group.
“We were going to postpone till after the pandemic … but it was really just a response to soothe our community heartache by providing some joy and color,” said Andi Rodriguez, Centro’s vice president of cultural placemaking.
Herrera’s mural The Last Parade certainly fulfills the desire for color, with every hue of the rainbow deployed throughout its abstract and figurative imagery.
Bystanders Gerard Lodico and Kara Paige paused in the parking lot to take it all in. “It’s a myriad of colors, in a big canvas. That in itself makes it powerful,” Lodico said. “It’s
Earlier, a mother-and-son pair of artists stopped across Navarro Street to watch Herrera add black lines for clarity, near the uppermost right-hand part of the image.
“It’s so colorful. … It reminds me of Adventure Time,” said Diana Torres, comparing the imagery to the Cartoon Network fantasy series. Torres and son Gallian read the imagery of a girl with a third eye on a blue stag as a spiritual journey and recognized indigenous imagery. The mural stands out for its abstract qualities, they said, differentiating it from murals highlighting San Antonio-specific symbols.
“I like it, especially for San Antonio, because I feel like we’re moving towards that spectrum of art that doesn’t really have a message,” Torres said. “It really isn’t telling you to think a certain way … it’s not like I’m being told to think this is what it’s supposed to be.”
Gallian added, “You’re thrown into the scene.”