This mural includes characters based on real people. For example, Tim is a Native American dancer, with Native American roots, and also an aspiring, independent film maker. He works as a roofer and dish-washer to pay the bills and finance his own films. Karilu is a mother, a singer who performs contemporary Mexican poetry and music, and an educator teaching children dance and theater. Tony owns a tire repair and auto shop with his brother and father; they also own a ranch in Mexico with agave fields and just recently opened a restaurant called Peso. These are just a few of the many people who assume dual or multiple roles in order to persevere and thrive in their lives. Their stories are real and relatable for many. In different ways, they overcome obstacles to keep alive their rich cultural traditions, continue the legacy of their ancestors, and also connect with their home in Southwest Detroit.
This series of murals was created with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit seeks to draw the best and most innovative ideas out of local organizations and individuals seeking to engage and enrich the community through the arts. For the 2015-2017 granting period, 57 winners were chosen to bring high-quality art experiences into Detroit’s neighborhoods. Among them, we were awarded a grant to create murals featuring Mexican culture in Southwest Detroit. These murals feature famous characters from Mexican popular culture— characters recognized and appreciated by many people in the Latino community—to build a bridge between the community and their heritage through art.
“The Dream Picker” mural tells the story of all immigrants who have come to this country holding a dream. The dream is a better future for themselves and their loved ones, through the fruit of their labor. In Michigan, many immigrants have come to work in the agriculture industry, such as picking apples. This mural depicts one of those farm workers, and at the same time, he represents the people from this community. They are hard-working immigrants as well, many with grandparents who actually came to Michigan as farm workers. Their families now have restaurants and other successful businesses in this community, which is called Mexicantown for its Latino population. The building where this mural is painted is actually owned by a descendant of immigrants, who now operates it as State Fram Insurance location. The Holy Redeemer Church is painted in the background to reinforce a sense of place and feature a landmark in the neighborhood. That church is actually across the street on the opposite side of the building, and it used by the local Latino community not only for Mass, but also for the Cristo Rey High School. The procession is a real procession that happens here in Mexicantown. It is called “Our Lady of Guadalupe” Procession and it happens every year in the beginning of December. The standards show the Lady of Guadalupe and Father Solanus Casey, who is a priest from Detroit who was beatified in 2017 and is one step closer to Sainthood. The farmer depicted is holding in one hand the apple, and the other hand is touching his heart. This shows faith and trust that he can achieve his vision by working hard. You can actually see his heart in a fantastical illusion through the shirt, representing the love that they put into their vision for the future. Many of these workers will not get to enjoy the benefits of their labor, but hope their families will reap the benefits. We actually included several generations from the building owner's family, which include different ethnicities-- Maltese and Mexican. I started the painting process during a time when GM has their “GM Cares Week,” cleaning up trash in the neighborhood. So I included them in the painting process.
The composition for this mural is inspired by Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The dancers in the front, which are portraits of famous Mexican icons, are positioned similarly to the workers in Rivera's composition. In addition, the use of the bottom panels is reminiscent of the detail sections of the Detroit Industry Murals. In this case, however, the panels resemble a filmstrip related to the many actors and actresses featured in this mural. It contains significant images of Detroit's timeline history painted in each frame. The original industry background is replaced by a view of Detroit's Mexicantown Bagley street. The idea is to reconnect the street that ones was the heart of this community. It is no longer the central gathering place because the street was split in two by the construction of the 75 freeway.
The intention is to recall this part of Mexican town's history, but also, to honor the people from this community's past. In the background, there are portraits of almost 30 community members who were significant players in making Mexicantown what it is today. Diego and Frida's portraits are overlooking the scene as a constant inspiration for Latinos in this community.
The mural also recognizes important places in the community. Some of the famous and loved restaurants of Bagley street are on either side. Mexicantown Michigan
welcome center's building is in the center of the composition, along with the Bagely St. footbridge and the American, Mexican, Canadian and Michigan flags.
The Revolutionary women's mural was inspired by the name of the restaurant where the mural is going to be installed. The Mexican Village Restaurant is located a few
blocks away from the historical Detroit train station building. The Mural depicts "Adelitas" Which are Mexican warrior women from the Mexican revolution. An important number of immigrants from
Mexico move to what is now known as Detroit Mexican Town short after the Mexican revolution war. The promise for a better life and being far away from the difficult situation down south brought
many Mexican families to this area, creating a Mexican Village.
For this mural we wanted to highlight the business name Nuevo León, which is named after a northern state in Mexico. The most important city from Nuevo León is
Monterrey. Here is the landscape from Monterrey, as well as popular icon from Nuevo León, Piporro, and the original woman who started the business more than 50 years ago.
Large mural created with the support of the Knight Foundation, E&L Supermercado, and Hacienda Mexican Foods showing a festive Cinco de Mayo parade and featuring
Pedro Infante, the most iconic ranchero singer in Mexico, and prominent community members’ portraits.
This is a very significant mural of an intimate moment in the neighborhood. The scene is of a gathering in Clark Park in Southwest Detroit. Clark Park is not only a part of the heart of the neighborhood, but also the lungs-- for all its trees. These oasis is especially valuable for people here who don't have a lot of resources; if you can't rent a hall for a party, you can at least go to this gem of a park. It is welcoming to people of all walks of life. This is where Latino culture and Detroit merge. The scene includes children playing with a piñata, which is common around Christmas time, a man in white who used to always be seen dancing right across the street from Clark Park, and a multicultural family group enjoying a lunch together.
This mural is painted in a very special shop in the Mexicantown area. This shop specializes in Mexican folk art, crafted and created in Mexcio. The connection of the mural with the place was thought to work as a window to the custom and colorful objects inside the store, including Huichol fabric and ceramic designs. The products that can be found inside the store and in the mural represent the colorful identity of the Mexican folk traditions and culture.
This mural was created with input from the community and the support of Jesse E. Venegas from Ideal Group for a performing arts and cultural center located in
Southwest Detroit. The design includes famous landmarks and members of the Mariachi Femenil group hosted at the center.
This indoor mural was created during the art show called "Looking for America" It was painted on 3 wooden panels. It depicts people of different cultural
identities building together the spirit of Detroit. Children planting and gardening in the foreground and a view of the City of Detroit as a background.
This indoor mural shows the annual Heritage Days event in Southgate, MI.
Painted on 5 panels (8x20 feet total) for Kroger Marketplace.
This mural is a tribute to Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, known professionally as Rodriguez (born July 10, 1942), is an American singer-songwriter from Detroit, Rodriguez was born in Detroit, Michigan. He was the sixth child of Mexican immigrant working-class parents. He was named Sixto (pronounced "Seex-toh") because he was their sixth son. His father had immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s; his mother was also from Mexico. They had joined a large influx of Mexicans who came to the Midwest to work in Detroit's industries. Mexican immigrants at that time faced both intense alienation and marginalization. In most of his songs, Rodriguez takes a political stance on the difficulties that faced the inner city poor. Since the cinematic release of Searching for Sugar Man in 2012, Rodriguez has experienced a flush of media exposure and fan interest in the United States, as well as Europe. On January 13, 2013, Searching for Sugar Man was nominated for and, on February 24, 2013, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He is a remarkable icon from the Mexican community in Detroit. The Mural was painted on a building where his family use to live in Southwest Detroit.
This design combines elements of Earth, plants and seeds as part of the natural cycle. Organic wavelengths in the background are reminiscent of the curves of the
human soul (aura) as well as layers of the Earth's crust. Chosen in a mural contest for Detroit Vegan Soul in Grandmont Rosedale, and painted with the help of students from three local high
This mural was created for the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation's cooperative work space called the WorkPlace, located at: 19120 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48223. It was part of a contest and selected by community members. It is part of a larger community public art project that includes a permeable ground surface, garden and gazebo.
When designing the mural, we spoke with community members to find out what they would like to see in a mural. They said they wanted to “bring back the roses to Rosedale.” They also wanted to see something colorful and vibrant. The mural concept also shows the idea of technology working in harmony with nature.
The city of Sterling Heights has unveiled a mural installed on the back of the Sterling Heights Library in the Children's Garden and depicts a large bookcase with children reading in various positions along with many books.
The design was chosen from more than 30 that were submitted when the city held a design contest this spring. The winning artwork was designed by Kelly Gray of Sterling Heights. The mural was installed by Detroit muralist Elton Monroy Duran of Corpus Art, Inc.
This Indoor mural painted for Las Tortugas Mexican restaurant in Sterling Hights Michigan. Is inspired the Iconic Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera. However in
this mural we put emphasis on the food industry, specially Mexican fast food. One of the favorites fast food kind is always a Taco and that's the reason why this restaurant uses the slogan; "I
Love Tacos" from Las Tortugas.
This Indoor mural depicting the story of Tenochtilan, present-day Mexico City.
Los Amigos Restaurant, Muskegon, MI.
I have been painting customized murals in order to continue and keep going with my purpose of being an artist. Many of my customers are from the Latino community. I enjoy supporting this minority and connecting with our heritage. It is also a way to share part of our culture with the people here in the United States. This Mural was created for "Las Cazuelas Mexican Grill", located at: 25290 Evergreen Rd, Southfield, MI 48075.
This painting is inspired by children who are dealing with a chronic degenerative illness or waiting for an organ transplant. The mother of a child living in Michigan who needs a kidney transplant reached out to me. Oakley's story inspired me to create this painting to raise awareness of this need. This painting features a child that is sleeping, covered with a blanket made out of all the dreams these children have. To paint these dreams, I used drawings collected from other parents of these children and the Hildago State Transplant Center in Mexico. It is curious that these drawings are actually the same drawings that every child makes. It is because actually, they are like any other child. The only difference is that they are fighting an illness. All of these dreams are about the future—what they want to be when they grow up or what they want to achieve in their lives. The difference is that if they don't receive an opportunity, they might not be able to make these dreams come true.
While I was exhibiting the Blanket of Sweet Dreams in Art Prize 2015, a business owner near Grand Rapids found out about my work and contacted me to paint three murals inside the new Lindo Mexico restaurant location at 1742 28th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49519. She wanted the murals to feature Mexican popular cultural icons.
This design features the two most famous fighters in Mexican culture. One is El Santo and the other is Blue Daemon. They are a duality—one is good and the other is bad. It speaks about the good and bad things in life. I created this composition with them ready to fight. I included the popular Mexican saying “There is no worse fight than the one that is never fought.” The intention of this mural is to inspire people to keep going. To never give up. To always be ready for fighting for the things that they want. The idea of not losing hope also relates to my work inspired by organ donation.
This is another mural from the indoor mural series near Grand Rapids. This one is a good example of how I design the murals in consideration of the space. For example, this wall was in a very narrow area filled with tables and chairs next to a bar in a restaurant. The idea I had was to create an extension of the bar and generate a more festive atmosphere, like a Mexican party. The result is the illusion of a larger area. Also, if people take a selfie while sitting at the bar, they will notice that it looks like they are sitting with these popular icons.
These are popular singers and actresses from the Golden Age of the Mexican cinematography, including Pedro Infante, Maria Felix, and Jorge Negrete. The films they are featured in make a portrait of Mexican popular culture—their values and imagery. They are inspiring for many people, not just in Mexico, but in many Latin American countries.
When I was exhibiting that piece of art in Grand Rapids, the owner of a very popular Mexican restaurant in Grand Rapids contacted me and asked me to paint three large murals inside their new building location. They wanted the murals to feature Mexican popular icons. That was very interesting because at the same time, I was receiving the news that I had been awarded with a grant from the Knight Foundation to paint six large murals in the Southwest Detroit area featuring popular icons from Mexican culture. This is the Mural painted for the entrance, it features "Cantinflas" a worldwide known Mexican comedian.