El Paso, Texas– It was nearly a year ago when ABC-7 introduced you to the artist behind the famous mylar balloon murals popping up all across town.
ABC-7’s Iris Lopez caught up with the artist, Tino Ortega, to see his most recent mural and to explain his inspiration behind every piece of art.
“My y escape is my art,” said Ortega, “I’ve been drawing my entire life and it’s just one of those things I really find enjoyment in and I see the importance of having a message in it as well.”
Ortega is the creative mind behind El Paso’s now iconic mylar balloon murals. His inspiration to create this series of murals began back on August 3rd of 2019.
“The August 3rd shooting was something that really affected a lot of people here in El Paso and when I opened up the gallery in Galeria Lincoln we got to meet a lot of interesting people that were part of the neighborhood and one of the people that was there was Gus, the owner of old sheepdog,” said Ortega, “His wife, her family was directly impacted by the shooting and it was just one of those projects where I wanted to give back and just have fun with something and I figured, why not murals.”
His I ‘heart’ EP mural located in central El Paso is the first of seven murals that would portray El Paso’s culture all across town.
Other murals include an LGBTQ pride balloon in downtown El Paso followed by another centrally located mural with the words ‘Chuco’ spelled out. A mural that reads, ‘Don’t be self Conchas’ is a play on words with an iconic hispanic dessert remindinding people to be kind to themselves.
“That one was to raise awareness for mental health,” said Ortega.
For his latest mural, Ortega wanted to highlight a classic El Paso phrase, ‘ay yay.’
“I figured, what was more El Paso than the language we chose to say and how we say it,” said Ortega, “To me it’s really important to the culture and to the people that are here.”
Beto Hernandez, marketing for Riverbend Development, was excited when Ortega approached him with the idea.
“It brings the community a sense of belonging and it brings a sense of togetherness and it kinda warms the heart,” said Hernandez.
However, Ortega’s tiniest but biggest fan isn’t phased at all by the attention her artist dad gets when it comes to his now iconic murals.
“She see’s me painting all the time at home and I bring her sometimes to help paint murals with me so she’s over it, she’s like yea ok cool lets go home,” said Ortega.
He is proud that his murals will always have a place in the borderland.
“I want the people that come to interact with the pieces to know they’re loved and that people care about them,” said Ortega, “And that there are people that are working actively in the community to make El Paso better than what it is in the future.”
Ortega is in the process of looking for his next wall to create his next mural.