Arts & Culture

GONZO Kicks Off Houston’s Biennial Mural Festival With New Mural In The Arts District

During the upcoming citywide festival, artists from around the world will transform Houston’s streets with murals.

Houston street artist Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr, better known as Gonzo247, has unveiled a vibrant new mural in Houston’s Arts District to kick off the upcoming Houston Urban Experience (HUE) Biennial Mural Art Festival.

Gonzo’s latest mural features brightly colored geometric shapes and designs, on the corner of Houston Avenue and Spring Street.

“The mural has a lot of different elements that are embedded abstractly, my interpretation of what’s happening in this area,” he said. “If you look you’ll see these white outlines that are kind of traveling throughout the mural and for me those represent the railroad cars.”

Gonzo said other elements represented in his new mural include rice grains for the area’s former rice silos (oblong shapes), the bayou (blue) and community (gradient shapes).

During the mural festival, which runs from November 18-24, a series of murals will be created throughout the city by artists from around the world.

Each artist will have around 190 hours to bring their design to life, using their preferred style, from graffiti to stencils. There will be daily guided and self-guided tours of the works, and vendors, live demos and tastings will be set up near each of the mural locations.

Picture of Douglas painting
Artist Douglas Chasmer, part of the muralist group “The London Police” came from England to take part in the 2015 festival.

The HUE festival took place for the first time in 2015. Gonzo says his childhood inspired him to start the event. As a kid growing up in the East End, he said there was only one mural that he remembers seeing in the neighborhood – a 1970s piece by Leo Tanguma on Canal Street.

“My parents didn’t know anything about art museums or gallery spaces. So I always liked art, but I didn’t know where to go, or I didn’t have anyone to take me or didn’t have the money to pay to get in,” he said. “So driving up and down Canal Street that one mural really helped me visualize myself as an artist, and inspired me and a lot of other people from that neighborhood to pursue a career in the arts.”

Gonzo said seeing the impact that one mural had on him made him want to create more murals around the city, and hopefully, inspire more young people to be artists. 

“I think as you drive, the entire city should be an outdoor gallery,” he said. “There should be all these points of inspiration because it sends a message to the younger people, that it’s ok to be an artist, it’s ok to be creative and it’s ok to pursue that here in the city.”

The first two days of the festival will have events and performances, with mural painting starting on November 20.  More details on the festival can be found, here.

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