Arts & Culture

WATCH: GONZO Transforms I-45 Underpass With Colorful Mural

The mural’s colors and icons represent the area’s four surrounding neighborhoods: EaDo, Eastwood, Third Ward and UH.

Houston street artist Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr., known as Gonzo247, teamed up with UH graphic design students to transform the Interstate 45 underpass at Cullen Boulevard into a colorful art installation.

"[The project's] in conjunction and partnership with a lot of the development that’s happening here near the University of Houston, specifically these new on and off ramps," said Gonzo. "So, all of this development’s happening, but we have this underpass that kind of was in a little need of some sprucing up."

Gonzo said seniors in UH's graphic design program competed in groups to create the design for the underpass.

"We wanted to bring different experiences for pedestrians as well as drivers, so we have icons for people walking by to experience that people driving wouldn’t," said Annette Wong, one of the students who worked on the design.

She said one of the unique challenges was that they weren't allowed to use typography as it could distract drivers.

Called Perspectives, the colors and symbols in the design are meant to represent the four surrounding areas:

  • UH (red hexagonal shapes representing the school's colors and "hive-like network")
  • Eado (orange lines for the community's energy, bike trails and sports in the area)
  • Third Ward (blue circles symbolizing blues and soul music)
  • Eastwood (green rectangles for the "tight-knit aspect" of the master-planned subdivision)

"All these areas kind of intersect here, and so the design basically takes influences from all these components and then artistically interprets that into something that tells a story as you drive through the underpass," said Gonzo. “Architecturally, it’s a really unique space with the perspective of the columns — and the freeway lends itself really well to a full out art installation.”

The project is nearly complete, with finishing touches expected to be carried out this week.