Local artist to create a new Aug. 3 memorial

Local+artist+Tino+Ortega+was+chosen+to+create+the+new+Aug.+3+memorial+that+will+be+built+at+Ponder+Park%2C+7500+W.H.+Burges+Drive+in+El+Paso.++

Alyson Rodriguez

Local artist Tino Ortega was chosen to create the new Aug. 3 memorial that will be built at Ponder Park, 7500 W.H. Burges Drive in El Paso.

Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor

El Paso was changed forever on Aug. 3, 2019.  

A gunman drove across Texas and took the lives of 23 innocent people. Since that day, two memorials have been created honoring the victims’ memory, and a new one is being built in Ponder Park.  

The first memorial stands tall at 30-feet in the parking lot of the Walmart where the shooting took place, depicting a “grand candela” as a beacon of hope for the El Paso community. This monument opened in November 2019 after that Walmart reopened.  

The second memorial is located at Ascarate Park, and is called The El Paso County Healing Garden. It is a tall wall with plaques of the victims’ names and stands as a reminder of our citys’ culture and resilience that cannot be weakened by hate. It opened on the second anniversary of the shooting.  

Local artist Albert “Tino” Ortega, known for painting the 3D balloon murals seen across El Paso, has been commissioned to create a third memorial. Ortega is going to have a budget of $170,000. 

“I feel really enthralled and honored to be considered for this opportunity. I know how deeply that day affected me and pretty much everyone in the community,” Ortega said. “I want to make sure that this spot is a beacon of reflection of who we are as a community. We can come to this spot and hopefully reflect on this day that impacted us so deeply. That’s why I do the balloon murals too, because it is about the reflection of the community. The balloons reflect what our history is and our culture and it is a way of mirroring who we are.” 

Many public meetings have been held about the new memorial at the Marty Robbins Recreation Center, 11620 Vista Del Sol Drive, and there are still more meetings to come.  

The funds to pay for the new memorial will be taken from the two percent of the city’s capital improvement budget that is allotted for public art projects. 

Ortega was chosen out of hundreds of artists vying for the opportunity to create the new memorial at Ponder Park, 7500 W.H. Burges Drive. Applicants needed to submit their resumes and works of art to be considered.  

“I am trying to convey a lot of messages through this memorial,” Ortega said. “I would go to the other two memorials and would get inspiration from them. I tried to take pieces design-wise from them, so then they are all bridged to one another. The piece itself is supposed to represent a crown. Crowns are synonymous to people with power or nobility. The shooter took away 23 people’s power on that day. This memorial is restoring that power in remembering them.”  

Ponder Park was chosen by the city because it is where El Pasoans met after the shooting happened. The community banded together; it is where people found out their loved ones were taken away from them. The whole city mourned together at the park.  

“It’s very crucial to have a memorial at Ponder Park because that is where everyone met at, and it is important to highlight the energy of this place,” Ortega said. The monument will have 23 trees and 23 lights, we’re trying to incorporate the number into the whole memorial. I am also working with a local writer to incorporate poems as well.”  

Many UTEP students are excited to see what the new memorial looks like in person. 

“I am looking forward to visiting the new memorial when it is built. Aug. 3 was a very traumatic day for the whole city, and this monument will be a nice place to remember the victims,” said UTEP senior Elisa Rodriguez. “I think Ponder Park is a good location for the art piece because it is so close to where it happened.” 

To see more of Ortega’s art or to learn about the monument, visit his Instagram @ortegtino. He also co-owns Galería Lincoln located at 3915 Rosa Ave. 

Alyson Rodriguez is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on Twitter.