Farmer’s Market Mural Pays Tribute to South Africa’s Multicultural Heritage

San Antonio gives residents a chance to beautify the city – one brushstroke at a time.

With or without previous artistic experience, residents are invited to paint a mural that will be installed on the north wall of the historic Market Square Farmer’s Market in the fall.

Designed by San Antonio natives Ashleigh Garza and Hailey Marmolejo in collaboration with the nonprofit San Anto Cultural Arts, the mural pays homage to the city’s multicultural heritage. It is a nocturnal scene with an array of motifs that hold a special place in Mexican culture and folklore, including imaginary animals called alebrijes and women wearing the luchador masks popular among Mexican wrestlers.

Developed with input from community members, the design was approved in early spring. The choice to center women and traditionally feminine objects and concepts was conscious, according to Garza and Marmolejo.

“We wanted to showcase the women of Market Square,” Garza said.

The women represent the famous San Antonio Chili Queens, Mexican women who sold traditional dishes such as tamales, frijoles, enchiladas, chili verde and chili con carne in the plazas of San Antonio from the 1860s to the late 1900s. 1930s, according to the University of the Incarnate Word. . At night, the scene, lit by mesquite fires and oil lanterns, was so striking that writers Stephen Crane and O. Henry even lent their literary talents to describe it.

Residents are invited to contribute to the development of a mural that will be installed at the Market Square Farmers’ Market in the fall. On Saturday, members of the community paint at the San Antonio Cultural Arts Center.

Charlie Blalock / Contributor

“The nocturnal encampments on the historic Alamo Plaza in the heart of the city had been a carnival, a Saturnalia renowned throughout the country…Attracted by the coquettish señoritas, the music of the strange Spanish minstrels and the strange Mexican spiciness. dishes served at a hundred competing tables, crowds thronged the Alamo Plaza all night,” Henry wrote in his 1904 short story “The Enchanted Kiss.”

Moreover, “all alebrijes are female figures…and then even the constellations in the sky are female, and then all the plants that we use are also in some way (expressing) female energy,” Garza said. “And so it’s really a tribute to women and the work they’ve done and continue to do in the markets.”

Titled “The Spirit Within,” the mural measures 18 feet by 155 feet – an intimidating amount of space to fill. However, Garza said the painting process was progressing slightly faster than expected thanks to the zeal of contributors.

Individuals and families are invited to stop by the San Anto Cultural Arts Headquarters on the 2100 block of El Paso Street at pre-determined times to paint, although there is only one community paint day left – Saturday, July 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No RSVP is required, though the nonprofit strongly recommends painting-appropriate clothing and closed-toe shoes.

According to Marmolejo, previous Community Paint Days have been well attended, each attracting between 15 and 30 families looking for a fun community activity.

Gavin Luna, 5, at Community Painting Day at the San Antonio Cultural Art Center.  Residents are invited to contribute to the development of a mural that will be installed at the Market Square Farmers' Market in the fall.

Gavin Luna, 5, at Community Painting Day at the San Antonio Cultural Art Center. Residents are invited to contribute to the development of a mural that will be installed at the Market Square Farmers’ Market in the fall.

Charlie Blalock / Contributor

“Almost all of the community days have been packed with people, and everyone is definitely thrilled about it. Children of all ages, people from all over the city,” Marmolejo said. “Even some people from out of town came.”

The painting is done on a material known as polytab, a non-woven fabric that is lighter than traditional canvas. Because most of the community members are not professional artists, their input is limited to blocking – setting the base color for each section of the painting. Once the blocking is done, Garza and Marmolejo will fill in the finer details. They expect the process to take about a month.

“The Spirit Within” is one of many projects carried out by the San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture’s Public Art Program through the Zona Cultural Public Art Effort. Funded by funds from the 2017 bond program, the effort aims to “create a visual walkway connecting the west side of the city to San Pedro Creek and the heart of downtown,” according to the city.

Isaiah Castaneda, 5, <a class=paints with his mother Maria during Community Painting Day at the San Antonio Cultural Art’s Center. Residents are invited to contribute to the development of a mural that will be installed at the Market Square Farmers’ Market in the fall.”/>

Isaiah Castaneda, 5, paints with his mother Maria during Community Painting Day at the San Antonio Cultural Art’s Center. Residents are invited to contribute to the development of a mural that will be installed at the Market Square Farmers’ Market in the fall.

Charlie Blalock / Contributor

On ExpressNews.com: How many of these new downtown San Antonio murals have you seen?

However, its value transcends the visual, according to Garza and Marmolejo.

“(M)urals are important because they bring people together,” Garza said. “They have the ability to create a whole new space for people to come together and talk about art and just create community.”

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