By Dr. Ricardo Romo
On a bright sunny Sunday afternoon last week two large white buses pulled up to Botello’s Grocery store on El Paso Street. The buses transported Pastor Jaqueline Becerra to her old neighborhood where a mural of her portrait and words of inspiration was unveiled.
The stunning 45 foot mural honors nurse, pastor, and philanthropist Jacqueline Becerra, and is part of Western Governors University’s [WGU] national “Role Model Murals” project.
Two of San Antonio’ s outstanding muralists, Los Otros Murals, had just completed the large mural the day before. The Los Otros Murals team, “Shek” Vega and Nik Soupe, have undertaken mural projects across the city of San Antonio, and this mural at the Botello Store turned out to be one of their best.
WGU Texas Chancellor, Dr. Steven Johnson, commented that Jaqueline represents the ideals that WGU Texas values most: determination, community and a willingness to give back.” Becerra earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree from WGU in 2018. In her
work as a religious pastor, she encourages others to achieve their goals. The mural shows Becerra’s face with owl’s wings behind her.
Shek and Soupe are both self taught artists and their stories as street taggers and graffiti artists have similar trajectories. As one might expect, these artists each have a different story in finding a passion to paint.
“Shek” Vega was born and raised in South San Antonio and began his creative career as a graffiti artist at age 15. Shek’s vibrant and explosive imagination attracted the attention of the Pepsi-Cola marketing team which featured him in a TV commercial engaged in mural painting and drinking cool Pepsi soda during the breaks.
Nik Soupe was born and raised in South Texas. A product of McAllen, he lived in numerous border communities while growing up. His parents labored as migrant workers. As a teenager he painted automobiles during the summer months, a job which kept his hobby of graffiti art in check.
Soupe loved art, but also loved literature and came to San Antonio in the early 1990s to study English at UTSA.
After completing his studies, he turned to art and for a time managed a warehouse he developed as an artistic cooperative. In 2014 he joined Shek and began to paint murals on a full time basis. Since his partnership with Shek, Soupe and Shek have painted more than 50 murals throughout San Antonio.
When Shek and Los Otros Murals are not painting murals they are doing creative work for the San Antonio Spurs and several other corporations. In a recent effort to expand their branding campaign, for example, the Spurs merchandising team contracted Shek to design caps and T-Shirts incorporating images that reflect graffiti and mural art.
Western Governors University engaged Los Otros Murals’ talents to feature a student who overcame numerous hardships and went on to achieve her goals. The wording on the mural says “Ambition Never Rests.” The marketing folks at WGU recognized the powerful messages that community murals can tell and plan to commission more murals throughout the nation. The mural by Los Otros Murals is the first and sends a positive message to the Westside. (All photos courtesy of Dr. Ricardo Romo)