Over the past seven years, the City of San Antonio Arts and Culture Department has mounted an extensive effort to beautify public spaces in the city. The results of these efforts at the San Antonio International Airport are especially noteworthy. The City has commissioned numerous murals, paintings, sculptures, and benches in different parts of the airport and in spacious parking structures. This account highlights commissioned murals by Suzy González, Michael Menchaca, and Eva M. Sanchez.
The ¡Adelante! mural at the San Antonio Airport by Suzy González and Michael Menchaca connects travelers with the city’s rich history and popular culture. Menchaca,
a gifted graphic artist and printer, considers his work a reflection of his family, his Latino heritage, and his vision of San Antonio.
Menchaca’s evolution as an artist began with
enrollment at San Antonio Community College (SAC) where he majored in Graphic Design and was mentored by art professor Mark Pritchett who led him to explore creativity beyond graphic design.
Upon receiving an Associate Degree from SAC, Menchaca enrolled at Texas State University to study printmaking. He also developed a greater interest in his Mexican American roots at the San Marcos campus. From 2011-2015 he attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.
In 2012, Menchaca was one of the youngest artists chosen for the San Antonio McNay Art Museum’s Estampas de la Raza: The Romo Collection exhibit of Chicano and Mexican American prints. The exhibit has traveled to eight cities across the country over the past decade and is currently showing in Atlanta.
In 2014, the new Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas presented the “State of the Art” exhibition that featured Menchaca’s work among 102 American artists giving him additional national recognition. Recently, Menchaca received a 2021 Fellowship of $50,000 from the Mellon Foundation and a Residency at Artpace in San Antonio.
Describing Menchaca’s 2021 Artpace exhibit, the Artpace newsletter concluded that Menchaca “expands on the colonial fantasies of the Texas creation myth” with his video creation, The 1836 Project that reframed
conversations about race and identity. This was certainly a timely exhibit as Texas and the nation debate questions of the inclusion of critical race theory in schools and the state passes laws banning books that question White superiority. Artpace staff noted that Menchaca’s work
employed familiar cultural images which convey the colonial and racist realities of Texas history.”
The San Antonio International Airport mural
¡Adelante!, completed with his partner Suzy González, celebrates the 300-year history of the city and beyond. The artists believe that by looking at the past, we can find historical references of significance to the present.
González’s ancestral roots are in South Texas, but she grew up in Austin and outside of Houston. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree [Cum Laude] from Texas State University in San Marcos where she met Michael Menchaca in a ceramics class. After completing graduate work at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, González earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.
In 2017, González and Menchaca won a commission from the City of San Antonio to complete ¡Adelante!, the digital mural at the San Antonio International Airport. The mural is 250 feet long and covers the entire length of the wall above the car rental section of the airport. The artists worked on the mural for an entire year completing it in time for San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebration in 2018.
The mural pays tribute to compelling individuals and events of San Antonio’s last three centuries. From left to right, the mural depicts important historical moments in
San Antonio beginning with the construction of the Spanish missions. The artists recognized the Canary Island families, Coahuiltecan Indians, and Belgian farmers of Westside farms. Also recognized are airplane manufacturing centers, and iconic buildings in the city such as the Tower of the Americas and the Tower Life Building.
González was instrumental in the selection of several women for the mural, including famed conjunto accordionist Eva Ybarra, pioneering pilot Bessie Coleman, legendary Mexican American singer Lydia Mendoza, labor leader Emma Tenayuca, and St. Philip’s College founder Artemisia Bowden.
The ¡Adelante! mural also gives significant attention to pre-World War I Pilot Benjamin D. Foulois credited with the nation’s first military flight, and the Stinson sisters, Katherine and Marjorie, who were the first women authorized to carry U.S. mail. The sisters’ family established the Stinson School of Flying in 1915, and Stinson Airport in South San Antonio is named for them.
González joined the Art Department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2017 as an Adjunct Art Professor. In the Spring of 2018, she also joined the San Antonio Street Arts Initiative to design and paint two murals, Mujer de Transfeminisma and Mujer de Maiz, at Quincy and St. Mary’s Street, north of downtown San Antonio.
A third San Antonio artist honored at the airport is Eva Marengo Sanchez whose art brilliantly captures the state of mind, color, and flavor of her hometown. She has
been featured in stories by Texas Public Radio and Texas Monthly. Sanchez paints on canvas in her studio, on tall buildings, and on elevator doors. She is a rising star in the Latino art scene.
When Sanchez graduated from a small liberal arts college in Richmond, Virginia she was undecided about her career path. That changed after beginning an internship with Andy and Yvette Benavides at their South
Flores frame shop in 2013. She credits Andy and Yvette with introducing her to the art scene in San Antonio.
The following year, Sanchez traveled to Mexico City where she worked on her Spanish language skills and studied Meso-American art and architecture. Her interest in the art of the great Mexican muralists grew as she visited museums and the marvelous Mexican public art.

Sanchez left Mexico with a strong desire to master painting. Eager to develop her artistic skills, she enrolled in several art classes at San Antonio College. In addition, she credits her development as an artist to Andy and Yvette Benavides who gave her a solo show in 2017 featuring her food paintings.
Sanchez described the food paintings, which are still-life presentations floating on a white background, as allowing her to spend more time rendering each object. A fascination with the color and texture of Mexican food led Sanchez to paint pan dulce, tacos, and frutas frescas commonly found in Mexican restaurants and bakeries on
the Westside of San Antonio. Sanchez explained that her use of still life and food became a way of talking about cultural identity.
A show at the Southtown San Antonio Presa House Gallery in 2019 also helped “jump-start” her career. That year, Sanchez also completed the mural at the San Antonio International Airport titled “Rising Concha” which depicts a giant bright yellow pan dulce.

The mural was completed with the San Antonio Street Art Initiative. More recently, Sanchez, participated in the “Soy de Tejas” show in San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas where she exhibited additional work from her food series.
The City of San Antonio Arts and Culture Department under the direction of Krystal Jones has supported hundreds of art projects in public spaces over the last five years. The city’s International Airport murals and artworks are numerous, and I plan to publish other art stories about this public art initiative.