Arts & Culture

New mural at Denver Harbor community center represents the neighborhood

The mural includes images inspired by traditional Mexican-American folk art, story-telling, street culture, and the Denver Harbor Community residents. 

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media
The artist David Maldonado and the hands behind him represents cultivation and the gardening program at the center.

A new mural depicting the cultural fabric of the Denver Harbor Community was unveiled Friday at its newly renovated multi-service center.

Local Houston artist David Maldonado said he was inspired by input from community members to depict services offered at the center like education and gardening, along with the history of the Denver Harbor community.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he’s honored that community members of Denver Harbor are using their voices.

“We thank you for sharing your voice in the process that developed this artwork and this is a community that is now taking control of its destiny," Turner said.

The mural covers a wall outside the service center along with the building pillars. The mural includes images inspired by traditional Mexican-American folk art, story-telling, street culture, and the Denver Harbor Community residents.

As a Mexican-American artist with ties to the Denver Harbor neighborhood through his grandparents, Maldonado wanted the community to have memories of their culture and neighborhood history through art.

"I tried doing things that were memorable to the community here. My grandparents were here not too long ago in the Second Ward and the Denver Harbor Area," he said.

Maldonado was chosen by the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs to design the mural. It took Maldonado one month to complete the mural. He says his latest creation is more than just a mural, but also a way to welcome people to the community.

"I hope it’s an invitation, you know I think sometimes even people that might not know the English language that well, I mean seeing these elements I feel it is an invitation."

Council member Karla Cisneros represents District H which includes Denver Harbor.
She said a community member came to her about the idea of a mural after renovations were done to the multi-service center.

"Juan was asking me what about a mural? What about the outside of the building?"

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media
Flowers represents growth in David Maldonado’s mural at the Denver Harbor community center.

Council member Cisneros said she's been working along with the mayor to get things done for the Denver Harbor neighborhood.

"I think Denver Harbor has really made a lot of progress under this mayor, and under this council member, and I’m thrilled and just couldn’t be happier about today."

Maldonado said he hopes current and future community members feel a sense of belonging from the mural.

"It’s not just an aesthetically pleasing wall to fit the aesthetic of a community. It’s permission to create, it’s permission to feel it’s permission to be present," he said. It’s permission to celebrate our past. It’s a permission to feel the present and a permission to celebrate the future and what’s to come."

The unveiling was attended by Maldonado himself along with Mayor Sylvester Turner, Councilmember Carla Cisneros, Houston Health Department Director Stephen Williams. Director for Houston Arts Alliance Grace Zuniga, Director, and Elia Noah, owner of Up Art Studios.

The mural is now included in the permanent artworks that represent the City of Houston and the second mural under Mayor Sylvester Turner that is entering the city’s civic art collection.

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