About the Project
The large mural is over 7,500 square feet and stretches approximately 1200 feet long. The wall originally was designed as a retaining wall and looks over Geronimo Dr. which is a busy thoroughfare that connects to Interstate 10 and an entrance to Bassett Place Mall. Houses from the Valley View Heights subdivision are above the land behind the mural, and the mall parking lot is across the street from the installation. There was a mural on the wall created 20 years prior that was in disrepair.
The idea to replace the Geronimo Dr. Mural was brought to the Museum and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD) by the Valley View Heights Neighborhood Association. Once officially funded, MCAD surveyed the neighborhood to help uncover the interests and direction of what kind of imagery would be meaningful for the community there. This survey and personal research and interviews conducted by the artist inspired the final direction for the installation. This resulted in the artist’s proposal for a mural that incorporated the plants, and animals of the regional Chihuahuan desert, Native American markings inspired by the neighborhood street names, as well as the iconography of the Mexican American culture found in El Paso and the neighboring city of Juarez, MX.
Original mural prior to removal and replacement, artist unknown c.1999. Photo credit: Christ Chavez
About the Work
Mitsu Overstreet designed the mural’s imagery and composition for the different types of experiences happening along Geronimo Drive. He used iconographic shapes and large spaces of color to brighten the ambient and peripheral driver’s perspective along the road. He then strategically intermixed rendered imagery of regional plants and animals, as well as embedded metal writing, to be enjoyed and safely seen by drivers, passengers and pedestrians who travel up and down the street.
The flat graphic patterns used throughout the installation were based on both traditional Mexican embroidery and Native American markings found on Apache clothing and basketry. The artist selected the tribe’s markings that aligned with the mural’s street name Geronimo Drive, which was named after the historic Apache figure.
In two significant areas, in front of the mall exit and a bus stop, he embedded writing with metal lettering. At the exit it reads “JUNTOS • TOGETHER” which was inspired by the artist’s conversations with the many people of the neighborhood and shopping center who described what made the City of El Paso special to them. In front of the bus stop is a poem crafted by the late El Paso poet Bobby Byrd. He was inspired by the project’s Native American theme to share the emotions and blessings found in Apache prayers with travelers passing through this beautiful neighborhood.
The regional plants and animals rendered throughout the mural are prickly pear cactus, Mexican gold poppies, burrowing owl, Mexican gray wolf, black-tail jack rabbit, the greater roadrunner and snowy egret. The main idea behind their placement was to create areas throughout the composition that are painted with texture, depth, and light & shadow for the people that could view the details of the work more thoroughly.
The Road Runner section stands about 14ft tall. Photo by Christ Chavez
Monsserrat Amador is an El Paso Native who specializes in painting. Amador found a great sense of appreciation for self expression as a child and has been practicing ever since. Amador draws inspiration from her experiences and environments, utilizing expressionism to evoke emotion in others. Monsserrat’s goal in her art career is to unify the community and provide healing through self expression.
Katelyn Behrens was born in El Paso, Texas in 1998. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in May of 2022, with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Drawing and a minor in Painting. Her work focuses on the Christian religion and its role in today’s society. She has exhibited at an array of local galleries in El Paso, such as the Glass Gallery, the Rubin Center, Amano Artist Co-Op, and Galleria Lincoln. Her work has been selected for multiple student shows, locally and
state-wide. She was awarded “best drawing” at the University of Texas at El Paso Annual Student Exhibition 2022. She lives and works in El Paso, Texas.
Fernando Fernandez is a native local artist here in El Paso, he has been painting for over 30 years. Fernando also known as “Graphics” began doing art as a child where he would draw his schools dittos and worksheets and paint the school gyms as a student at the elementary and middle schools he attended. Fernando painted his first commissioned mural at the age of 18yrs for Power 102 back in the 90’s when art was not a hot commodity as it is now. As one of the first pioneers for the local art movement here in El Paso, Fernando also started the first art walk in El Paso for Black Market and opened and ran an art gallery The Brickhouse back in the 2000’s. He can paint on just about any medium and is skilled in many painting tools from paint brush to airbrush and everything in between. His commissioned projects vary from small projects he does like painting bike helmets, to Virtual Reality game art he collaborated with Dell Computers on, and of course his specialty is murals. His murals are seen throughout El Paso in bars, businesses, homes, and hospitals, all the way to Van Horn where his Jeff Bezos Blue Origin Commissioned mural resides. Fernando pours out his heart and creativity to everything he creates with the goal of making the people feel something but most importantly sending the message of positivity, healing, and light to humanity.
Alexa Herrera was born in the West Coast yet quickly found herself engulfed by the desert in the borderland of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua. Here Herrera has found that life in a singular day can hold a broad spectrum of experiences that art has helped her process. The more Herrera familiarizes herself with emotions and the way the human face expresses them, the more she understands how she can convey the ambiguity that is strived for in her work. Herrera has made the focal point of her art be the human self and has come to love the variety that lies within them. Herrera enjoys finding a muse in everyone she meets, so far they’ve all lead to characters of her own imagination which she’s correlated to the people she loves, has lost, or encounters and the life experiences she’s come to share with such.
Caleb Jimenez, and emerging artist born and raised in the lower valley of Socorro, TX. He explores thoughts, emotions, and visions brought through life experience, using the physical manifestations of an image as a map to navigate his own soul.
Born and raised in El Paso Texas, my passion for art was ignited by my oldest brother at an early age. He was always drawing and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I continued to pursue art at a professional level by acquiring my bachelor’s degree of fine art from the University of Texas at El Paso. Even though I’ve graduated the learning and exploring never ends and so I continue to explore new media.
Most of my work is inspired by the environment. I’m interested in portraying a visual message regarding my concerns about nature. The goal is not to just look pleasing, but to reach the viewer’s judgment on the exploitation of nature. I want to inspire awareness and question the logic with which everyday choices are made. I hope that through my work I can push human curiosity and give a different perspective on the era we occupy.
Bear is a contemporary artist and printmaker based in El Paso, Texas. Her mother is Navajo/Dine and father Mexican. The “cholo/a culture” that Bear grew up in on the West Coast and Bear’s research to recover traditions (not practiced with her at youth) in her parents’ culture influences her work greatly.
Bear combines digital and traditional techniques to produce images. Bear’s preferred medium is printmaking, but has expanded to mix media, installation, and spray paint. The material guides Bear and is treated like a ceremony/dance. Each gesture during the process of a work is just as important as the outcome
Babak Tavakoli is an El Paso based muralist who specializes in highly detailed spray paint murals.
Jaime Torres – El Diario de El Paso, ‘Juntos’ Embellecen Zona de Bassett Place
Fischer, F. – KFOX14 – New Mural unveiled on Geronimo Drive