SAN ANTONIO – The headlines in June were heartbreaking.
Monique Rodriguez, 29, was sitting at a bus stop heading to her first day at a new job.
‘Suddenly, she was hit and killed by a car driven by a teenager suspected of being intoxicated.
Rodriguez left behind a three-year-old daughter, and a hole in the hearts of her loved ones.
Family friend Paolo del Barrio, meanwhile, had a blank wall and an idea of how to help with the healing process.
He decided to have a mural painted in her honor on the side of his building, located in the 1500 block of N. Zarzamora.
“It was getting tagged every other day,” he said, speaking of the wall. “We just thought that it would be a good reason to honor the departed in a good way.”
To complete the job, del Barrio reached out to Angelica Sanchez, a local artist with whose work he had become familiar.
Sanchez, a native of Puerto Rico and St. Phillip’s College graduate, says she jumped at the chance to use her talents for a cause that resonated with her on a personal level.
“One of my best friends, he was killed by a drunk driver,” Sanchez said. “I have an aunt and uncle who were killed by a drunk driver.”
Ironically, in the middle of working on the painting, Sanchez, herself, had a run-in with a suspected drunk driver.
She says she was hit by a car while riding a scooter downtown.
Although she was not seriously injured, her bumps and bruises made painting the mural difficult.
Sanchez had to call on friends and fellow artists to help her finish the job.
Coming up with the idea for the mural also was a challenge, since Sanchez had never met Rodriguez.
She says to get to know her subject better, she had a long conversation with Rodriguez’s mother.
“We spoke about her love of Fiesta and flowers and a lot of things like that. And that’s why she has a flower crown,” Sanchez said.
When he saw the finished product, del Barrio says he was overwhelmed.
“It’s one thing to see an artist’s creation on a proof. And then when you actually see the finished product, I mean, I was blown away,” he said. “I couldn’t be more honored than to have her do it on my wall.”
Neither he nor Sanchez has heard any feedback yet from Rodriguez’s family but they hope the artwork will help to bring them peace one day.