Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and Live From the Southside, a new local- and Latina-owned magazine that works to improve & expand community relationships through promoting events, stories and businesses.
The San Antonio Street Art Initiative is a nonprofit charity that supports artists through career development programming and economic development through community beautification projects. Two-thirds of the Board was born and raised on the south side of San Antonio and so it is no surprise that a mural incentive has launched there as part of their mission.
Arriving on the scene in November 2018, The San Antonio Street Art Initiative (SASAI) manages a vibrant schedule of producing exciting mural art that represents unparalleled quality and memorable experiences. Its highly acclaimed projects have beautified neighborhoods, contributed to economic development, advocated for fair-pay jobs for local artists, and continues to be some of the most celebrated contributions to the public art scene in recent years.
In the past two years, their numbers are astounding. In the short 24 months that the non-profit has been around, SASAI has completed over 40 murals (pushing 50 now) and has advocated for the careers of over 30 artists in the city.
In the mural world, this is a very impressive feat. Ultimately, this local non-profit charity is known for its signature mission, to create “The Largest Outdoor Gallery in Texas™” being responsible for the award-winning San Antonio Street Art Initiative Pillars located under the highway at 35 and North St. Marys, (at the Corner Quincy and St. Mary’s St), and countless murals peppered throughout the St. Mary’s Strip as part of the lively entertainment district. Even with the pandemic raging on, SASAI has seen no stop in executing murals and has even more planned projects for 2021 and beyond.
Recently, in celebration of Community First Health Plans’ 25th Anniversary, Community First partnered with the San Antonio Street Art Initiative to paint a one-of-a-kind mural on the exterior wall of a South Side EZ Wash Laundromat at 1519 W Southcross San Antonio, TX 78211.
Endearingly titled “We Love Our Southside”, this colorful mural is the first of others to launch as part of San Antonio Street Art Initiative’s Southside Mural Project. This project is an initiative to place unique and culturally relevant murals in high traffic, urban, areas on the South Side with the first already bring one of the most buzzed-about and leaked local murals right now on social media.
“Because of Community First’s generous support, the South Side will now have its own mural representation of culture not currently represented in our part of town,” said Shek Vega, Founder & President of San Antonio Street Art Initiative. “All participating artists live or are from the Southside and we hope to incentivize more artists to participate in future mural installations in the future. We love our Southside, and we get to celebrate the community one colorful mural at a time.”
Earlier this year, SASAI, with the help of April Monterrosa, Editor in Chief of Live From The Southside, was able to solicit 40 community leaders, business owners, influencers and longtime residents from the South Side, via Zoom, to share why the area is so special to them and the imagery that best represented their experiences.
Through this community feedback, SASAI’s President Shek Vega designed the mural using the list of imagery that the community provided. He then invited Southside artists to execute the design, each contributing the unique art aesthetic that they are known for. Eva Sanchez, Joe De La Cruz, Shek Vega and Nik Soup of Los Otros, joined forces to paint We Love Our Southside, and executed the mural in four days.
“Arists have the talent to inspire others to follow their dreams while sharing a vision that is amazingly colorful and full of life. It is a true gift and talent that only a few possess,” said Theresa Scepanski, President and Chief Executive Officer Community First Health Plans. “This project is special, not only for the artists, but for the community as a whole. Growing up on the southside, I’m excited to see the continued development of the neighborhood, and I’m proud that Community First Health Plans can contribute to the success of this project.”
The San Antonio Street Art Initiative is still busy, executing murals and producing new programming that will further advocate for artists and mural art in San Antonio. The Southside Mural Project in particular will have more murals executed by early 2021.
“It has been such a joy to contribute mural art to San Antonio, especially with a contemporary twist. It has been an even greater joy to do this for the side of town that raised me. With the initial launch of our Southside Mural Project planned for earlier this year, we feared the pandemic would cancel potential for this to launch. But thanks to Community first Health Plans, we are getting it out this year as planned. Right at the buzzer,” said Burgundy Woods, Board Member for SASAI. “I think this is my favorite mural in San Antonio now. I’m so excited for the next murals to come. You haven’t seen anything yet!”
Artist calls have been live since August and are announced on the San Antonio Street Art Initiative’s Instagram at @SanAntonioStreetArt. Those who want to be considered to be a part of this incentive program should follow them on social media and apply at sanantoniostreetart.org.
This article initially appeared on Live from the Southside.
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