Arts & Culture

Houston Mural Festival Invites Houstonians To ‘Refresh’ After A Challenging Year

“Big Walls, Big Dreams,” produced by UpArt Studios, offers art lovers a chance to view large murals from artists across Houston, with a thenme of “Refresh Houston” — bringing “new life to old buildings,” and providing a refreshing change from the pandemic, organizers said.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Artist David Maldonado paints a mural on Polk St. for the Big Walls Big Dreams Art Festival on May 20, 2021.

A new mural-painting festival is inviting Houstonians to “refresh” after a year of weathering the pandemic.

“Big Walls, Big Dreams” is produced by UpArt Studios, and showcases large murals from artists across Houston, according to co-founder Elia Quiles — and people can watch while they work.

The idea, she said, is to get Houstonians outdoors and to make some of the city’s infrastruture more attractive.

“The festival itself has an overall theme of, ‘Refresh Houston,'” Quiles said. “The idea is we’re trying to bring new life to old buildings. We’re starting to come out of the pandemic a bit. So it’s also people being refreshed, and doing something that they can do socially distanced.”

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
The back of Rahmaan Statik’s truck, which hold cans of spray paint and a visualization of his finished mural. Taken on May 20, 2021.

Organizers are offering tours of the murals through the weekend, and the full festival runs through the end of the month. Previous versions of the festival have taken place during Miami Art Week since 2013, according to organizers.

There are guided and self-guided tours — including bike tours — for art lovers to check out work form more than two dozen artists.

One of those artists is Golden305 — real name Cristhian Saravia — who hails from Venezuela and paints with his daughter, who goes by Ange305.

The festival gives artists the opportunity to beautify the community, while also inspiring younger artists, Saravia said.

“When you paint something in the street like this, the newer generations, the kids from the neighborhood , they see things different,” he said. “They wonder about these murals they wonder about these colors, and the energy they push and what do they represent, and they get their heads into something else.”

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Golden305 and his daughter Ange305 paint a mural on Irvington Blvd. to take part in the Big Walls Big Dreams Art Festival on May 20, 2021.

Saravia said he never pressured his daughter to become an artist — shen took it up on her own. And at first, he was concerned that she was choosing art as a profession, because it’s so difficult to succeed.

But as she grew as an artist, he knew she was making the right decision for herself.

“Now that she’s really serious about it, and she’s really talented, I’m pushing 100%,” he said. “I’m lucky and blessed to travel with her. We’ve been in all kinds of cool places, and we painted murals. So it’s really a blessing.”

Another muralist, Rahmaan Statik Barnes, was preparing a piece called “Be Your Higher Self,” which featured Houston Public Media talk show host Ernie Manouse, who helms Town Square in the afternoons. Barnes, who is from Chicago, said the message was about promoting enlightenment through diversity.

He added that events like “Big Walls, Big Dreams” open the public’s eyes to different forms of art.

“The world, the country needs needs this,” he said. “It needs some alternative from, you know, media that is fed to you through some third-party interest with a third-party agenda. You know, this is like a small budget project.”

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
A work-in-progress mural that Artist Rahmaan Statik says represents the diversity of Houston. Taken on May 20, 2021.

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