In 1993 a group of Latino artists from San Antonio’s Westside founded San Anto Cultural Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community-based artistic endeavors. That summer, Juan Miguel Ramos, one of the arts organization’s co-founders, joined with artist Cruz Ortiz to paint “Educacion,” San Anto’s first mural.
The “Educacion” mural faces Guadalupe Street, one of the principal thoroughfares of the city’s Westside. The mural’s education theme provided Ramos and Ortiz with a means “to raise awareness for the need to look at education, history, and culture as sources of strengths and hope for our community.” Over the next twenty-five years (1993-2018) San Anto Cultural Arts artists completed over fifty murals.
Juan Miguel Ramos began his art education at the age of eight when he enrolled in art classes at the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts. During his teen years, he studied at the San Antonio Art Institute, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. He earned a BFA and MFA from UTSA. He currently teaches photography and drawing at Northwest Vista Community College and performs as a member of Sexto Sol, a local band.
Cruz Ortiz, a native of Houston, also attended UTSA taking art classes alongside his friend Juan Miguel Ramos. Ortiz told San Antonio Magazine that he “draws on his experiences as a youth moving all around Texas with his missionary parents, an itinerant existence that often meant he was one of a handful of Latinos in his various schools. Though much of his work has an urban, hipster vibe, what arguably gives it that quality is his suburban childhood.”
It was his mural work with the San Anto Cultural Arts organization and meeting other artists like Juan Miguel Ramos that gave Ortiz valuable insights into the life and culture of South Texas. Cruz and his wife Olivia operate Snake Hawk Press in San Antonio which helps companies design and brand their products. His “Hello Darlin’ Map” hangs in the northeast entrance of the AT&T Center’s Plaza Level.