When local artist Cruz Ortiz was approached by Eva’s Heroes about collaborating with the nonprofit’s teen and adult participants on a Tricentennial inclusion mural, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“My daughter, Graciela, has Rett syndrome, so I know what it’s like to for individuals with special needs,” Ortiz said. “They are often ignored, but they just want to be included.”
So, on October 17, despite the chilly morning air and chances of rain, more than 20 teens and adults with intellectual special needs picked up paint brushes and used bright orange, red, yellow and blue to paint three 4-feet by 6-feet wooden panels to create an official Tricentennial inclusion mural at the Harvey Najim YMCA on the South Side.
Participant Justice Simeon said his favorite part of working on the mural was “having fun” with his fellow Eva’s Heroes friends, while Sandra Hernandez said she liked using her favorite colors “red and yellow to paint the mural.”
Later that evening after the panels had dried, the participants, their families and other guests gathered outside at the Mission Marquee Plaza, formerly the Mission Drive-In Theatre, adjacent to the Najim YMCA for an unveiling of the mural, which now hangs on the back wall of the marquee plaza through December 31.
“The whole idea behind this mural is about inclusivity, so this mural is about them and all of San Antonio’s special needs community,” Ortiz said. “The entire process of the image was developed by the participants and they made their marks with these colors. Together we have made something beautiful for all of San Antonio to see.”
Eva Longoria Baston, who co-founded Eva’s Heroes, sent a special message from her home in Los Angeles: “Happy 300th Birthday San Antonio! A huge thank you to Cruz Ortiz for collaborating with Eva’s Heroes and working with our participants, who had an absolutely wonderful time. We are proud to display this spectacular mural to commemorate San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebration and honor our city’s efforts to be an all-inclusive community, especially for those with intellectual special needs.”
During the unveiling, Christiane Perkins-Garcia, co-founder and interim executive director, announced that Eva’s Heroes plans to offer services and programs to the South Side in the coming months. “It is only fitting that this inclusion mural be displayed on the South Side now that we will be offering services here soon,” she said.
In addition to thanking the City of San Antonio World Heritage Office for allowing the mural to hang at Mission Marquee Plaza, Garcia also acknowledged the Grainger Foundation for awarding Eva’s Heroes with a $5,000 grant to help fund the mural project.
In closing the reception, Garcia called the “artists” to the podium for a surprise gift. All were given a Tricentennial commemorative Texas charm, courtesy of James Avery Artisan Jewelry.
Rudy Arispe: 210.438.2088
Christiane Perkins-Garcia: 210.316.4356