‘If These Walls Could Talk’: Odd job more than 40 years ago led to career for local muralist

Jimmy Ramirez’s murals bring the outdoors into businesses

A local artist reflects on his more than 40 years as a painter and muralist.

SAN ANTONIO – When Jimmy Ramirez recognized there was something missing from a brand new business, he offered to help.

The owner of the western wear store in Cotulla was in a bind and had no way to let potential customers know what he had for sale.

RELATED: ‘If These Walls Could Talk’: Organization aims to put ‘Art Everywhere’ in downtown area

“I asked him, ‘Aren’t you gonna put a sign here?,” Ramirez said. “He said, ‘Well there’s no one here to paint. The only artist we had moved to San Antonio.”

That was in 1977.

Ramirez, who had a natural talent for art, offered to step in and put something together.

Little did he know at the time that he also was forging a new career.

He says he began to sign his name to all his artwork, and that led customers to him.

Now, his work is in demand by local businesses.

The elaborate murals Ramirez created inside Hacienda Vallarta Buffet took months to complete. (KSAT 12 News)

He is the artist behind the breezy scenes that you will find on the inner walls of some popular restaurants, including Pete’s Tako House downtown and Hacienda Vallarta Buffet and Bakery on Bandera Road.

The murals often depict a garden-type setting under bright blue skies.

“I really don’t draw for a younger crowd. I draw for older people, for businesses,” he said. “I don’t use spray paint. I’ve never used it although I do use airbrush.”

Ramirez says he prefers to do things the old-fashioned way, painstakingly painting by hand as much as possible.

Ramirez even painted a mural on his living room wall. The painting was a tribute to his late parents. (KSAT 12 News)

The West Side native appreciates the newer artwork that is increasingly popping up on walls in his neighborhood and across the city.

However, he says he remembers a time before this type of mural work was popular.

“Back then, we really didn’t paint on walls,” he said. “If it was not an advertisement, you really didn’t paint on them.”

Ramirez called upon his old skills as a sign maker to welcome KSAT 12 to his home. (KSAT 12 News)

Recently, he worried his painting days might be over.

Ramirez woke up and discovered his van, which he calls his mobile office, had been stolen.

“I had my brushes that I carry with the me, the majority of all my tools (in it),” he said.

Although police quickly recovered the vehicle, they did not find his art supplies.

Ramirez says he is grateful to family and friends who helped him replace most of it and get back to work.

With a long history behind him, he’s also helping to secure the future.

He has been a mentor to his niece, Catalina Zamarripa, who also is an artist.

Zamarripa was featured previously in “If These Walls Could Talk.”

To see her story, click here.


About the Authors:

Katrina Webber was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.