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El Paso announces new public art plan

Photograph by Hugo Hinojosa
The mural titled, El Paso Port-All, was created by Jari “WERC” Alvarez in 2012. It represents new and old icons in new ways giving the viewer multiple experiences. The Stanton Port of Entry is one out of three area bridges that connect the United States-Mexico border of El Paso, TX. and Cd. Juarez, representing a bi-national and bi-cultural relationship with the neighboring city of Cd. Juarez.

City Council met on Jan. 21 to discuss the adaptation of the Public Art Plan for 2021. 

The Public Art Plan will update completed projects and breakdown those scheduled for this year. Any projects that were postponelast year because of the pandemic are also included in this schedule. The 2021 Public Art Plan includes $1,430,000 for new projects and $10,475,000 for previously approved projects, $11,905,000 in total. 

“We have 6 new projects for the 2021 plan,” Public Art program supervisor, Miriam Garcia, said. “We have a couple of projects for library renovations and also a big new facility that would be part of the Eastern Regional Command Center for the Police Department.”  

This program was adopted by City Council in an effort to integrate public artworks throughout El Paso. Since 2006, the City’s Public Art Program has completed 72 projects with 24 in progress. 168 artists have worked with the program, 80of whom are local artists. 

One project planned for this year will be a permanent memorial at Ponder Park for the victims of the Cielo Vista Walmart shooting. 

The one we currently have is a temporary memorial,” Garcia said. “The panels for people to hang their stuff, that’s where it will be. 

The department is building a public collection of artworks created by El Paso artists to recognize the artistic talent and cultural diversity of the cityThe Art Purchase program is only available for local artists.  

“Last year we had funds left and we spent about $88,000 in purchasing art from the local artists to help the community and the artist community to do better during the pandemic.” Garcia said. 

Other projects in progress include artwork at the Joey Barraza and Vino Memorial Park in Northeast El Pasonew neighborhood waterparks in District 2 and District 7and two mural replacements. One replacement is the Geronimo mural located across from the Costco at Geronimo Dr., a 1999 project of the El Paso Millennium Community Celebration depicting the Union Station and parts of military equipment that represent the city’s relation to the army 

Past projects include Los Lagartos (The Alligators) and the El Paso Port All mural. Los Lagartos sculpturelocated in San Jacinto Plazapays homage to the live alligators that were kept in a gated artificial lagoon in the middle of San Jacinto Plaza from 1889-1965The live alligators were removed due to people abusing the animals and sometimes killing them. 

The City of El Paso partnered with local artist, Luis Jimenez, to bring the iconic symbol back in 1995. In 2015, the sculpture underwent an $80,000 restoration as part of the Public Art Program Plan for that year. It is still there today. 

The mural titled El Paso Port-All, was created by Jari “WERC” Alvarez in 2012. Located at 1001 S. Stanton St, the mural encompasses the themes and concepts that evoke the idea of art transforming, inspiring, healing, weaving, and empowering communities. 

The location of this mural is significant because the Stanton Port of Entry is one out of three bridges that connect the United States with Mexico in El Paso, TX. This artwork represents a bi-national and bi-cultural relationship with the neighboring city of Cd. Juárez. 

One significant project is the Remembrance-Crime Victims Memorial, created in 2009. The Memorial is dedicated to those who have died from acts of violence in the city. The sculptural pavilion is located in the Lower Valley and looks like an abstract wing to represent transformation and taking flight. There are four black polished granite discs, each eight feet in diameter, that hold the engraved names of the deceased 

In 2020, the memorial added 76 names, as part of the annual Public Art Plan.  

Another program the department has is the Allied Artist Program which commissions experienced artists to create projects of $125,000 or more. The goal is to gain the technical and administrative expertise needed to compete within the field of public art. 

These opportunities are all available due to the annual Public Art Plan that The Museums and Cultural Affairs Department present to City Council every year. 

Noelia Gonzalez may be reached at p[email protected]; @OfficialNoeliaG on Twitter. 

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About the Contributor
Noelia Gonzalez is a Senior, Double Majoring in Multimedia Journalism and Digital Media Production at the University of Texas at El Paso. She works as the Multimedia Reporter for the University's newspaper, The Prospector. She has interned at KTSM Channel 9 and KVIA ABC-7, pitching stories and helping reporters write and edit their stories for air. She enjoys editing and producing videos and hopes to incorporate her love of film, music, and news-reporting in her future endeavors.
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El Paso announces new public art plan