Originally published in the San Antonio Heron
“The Last Parade” by muralist Rudy Herrera is the latest downtown public art project to be completed as part of Centro San Antonio’s “Art Everywhere” initiative. Standing 70 feet wide and roughly 100 feet tall, Herrera portrays integral aspects of his life in vibrant colors, honoring his wife, son and his heritage in the abstract work on the side of the Kress building on East Houston Street.
Symbolism flows through the eclectic colors chosen by Herrera. The mural portrays a Native American woman, her heart as a guiding light, riding a blue deer, which is a common element in indigenous culture, symbolizing medicinal and spiritual rituals.
Herrera wasn’t always an artist. Before pursuing art, he worked at McDonald’s during the day and at Bakery Lorraine on the overnight shift, baking bread in the early mornings.
“I was working … just riding my bike all around town just to get to these two jobs,” Herrera said. “I ended up staying (at Bakery Lorraine) for four years … I was basically a kitchen manager of the overnight shift and second shift, which is mostly bread production.”
About six years ago, Herrera broke from his culinary career and began working with Chad Carey’s Empty Stomach Group, an umbrella of restaurants that includes Barbaro, Hot Joy and the music venue Paper Tiger. His first mural—a piece for Hot Joy’s Dallas pop-up location, which consisted of an illustration of two men in the midst of a volcano, the words “Hot Joy” painted in an orange and white gradient between them—gave the underground artist the needed push to pursue bigger mural projects.
“They asked me to go do a big old mural, and at the time, that was the biggest mural I had ever done,” Herrera said. “It was like 60 (feet) by 25 feet. They were able to pay me the best that I’ve ever been paid and (gave me) the biggest opportunity I’d ever gotten at that time. That was a turning point for me, because that was the first time where we got money to breathe now. It was a confidence booster, it showed that I could do it on my own. It gave me the confidence to come back (to San Antonio) and try it.”