[theme music plays]
Jesse Treviño: I wanted to create a space, a small space, a space within that area so that people would feel safe, and create that green space where someone – you could come at any time, drive by there or anything.
Josh T Franco: Jesse's murals are great and they marked a lot of spaces in San Antonio, and there are a lot of how people living in San Antonio makes sense of that place.
Gabriel Velasquez: as a leader, there's nobody in front of him. to be this influencer that at some level is not necessarily known for influences outside of the arts, but most definitely has shaped an entire vantage point from which to appreciate that Mexican American.
George Apodaca: Hello, I'm George Apodaca, Digital Archivist and Asset Manager here at the Archives of American Art
Jess Purkis: And I'm Jess Purkis, Digital Initiatives Archivist. Welcome to Articulated.
This podcast receives support from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.
George Apodaca: Communal connection and expression form the heart of public art. These works live in our shared spaces and shape our built environments, and they also come to stand as symbols for our neighborhoods, cities, and collective vitality. Across San Antonio, Texas, you'll find nearly a dozen murals by one Jesse Treviño, an artist who has built a career enriching his city with works that combine his personal experiences and his visions for a brighter future.
Jess Purkis: In this episode, we will trace the arc of Treviño’s life and career, especially how he has served his community and broadened the horizons of San Antonio.
Treviño was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1946 to a large family that eventually settled on the west side of San Antonio.
In his 2004 oral history with Cary Cordova, Treviño recounts his early involvement with the arts and the encouragement he received from his teachers:
Jesse Treviño: Yes, I was born; you wouldn’t believe it, in a little shack in Monterrey, Mexico. And we had a little house. It had a dirt floor, just like in the movies, you know. Dirt floor. And I was born on Christmas Eve, 1946. I have 12 brothers and sisters – nine brothers and three sisters. My father had a better opportunity over here in the USA. So we came and we settled here on the west side of San Antonio, and we lived in a couple of little houses. And I remember living by the creek for a couple years there, and then we moved to another house, and actually we ended up on Monterrey Street there on the west side.
And you know, as a little boy I remember I was going to Crockett Elementary School, and you have to remember, I was already drawing and I really enjoyed drawing. I was drawing on the walls and stuff there in the house. I remember my mom told me, I was doing little cartoons and she says, you can’t do that, you know, because this house doesn’t belong to us.
But you know – and the thing about it is that, in school, I guess some of my teachers recognized that I could draw. But I was real competitive, you know. I liked challenges, and I remember entering a contest and feeling positive that I was going to win. And I did win. I won a little wildlife drawing contest, and I remember drawing two little doves on a manila, yellowish paper. And it looked like a professional artist had sketched that.
Cary Cordova: How did you even know about this contest at the Witte Museum?
Jesse Treviño: Well, you see that – that' s like the whole thing that – there was probably – I can’t remember the teacher but there was – in the first grade I remember that – that I know the things the teachers could see, so one of them was aware of that contest, and that’s how I found out. The teacher introduced me to that contest and said, look, there’s a contest over there. Would you like to enter? And wow, that was right there, and then. I figured I must be pretty good to enter the contest. And that’s what did it. And I realized that there were a lot of art contests, not just in here, locally, all over the country. And I remember entering like safety contests – safety poster contests. They all had to do with art, and – and winning so many.
I got away with, you know, not taking some of the classes and things that I needed because I was working on art projects that my teachers wanted me to work on. I remember in middle school working along with my teacher on a mural, you know, that we did. And it was incredible.
you know, it felt like I was, I don’t know, getting away with it, and at the same time I was – I was really cheating myself because perhaps I was missing out on some of the things the other kids were learning because I was doing this, you know? And I mean, I don’t regret that, but that’s the way it was. I spent a lot more time with my art.
George Apodaca: As a teenager, Treviño won a scholarship that allowed him to study at the Art Students League in New York City. He arrived during the 1960s as New York was coming into its own as a global art leader and as abstract expressionism soared to new heights; Treviño describes finding his stride in a new environment:
Jesse Treviño: So when I was in high school I won – I didn’t win all contests, but I won two scholarships. I won one to the Chicago Art Institute and I won one to the Art Students League in New York. And never been in a plane, never – and for – I was just lucky that my brother’s sister-in-law, was married and lived in Brooklyn. So he called her up and said, hey, my brother has won a scholarship. Can he stay with you all?
So I went. Never been on a plane and went to Brooklyn and all that. And for – for – the first couple of months I, you know, would go to school on the train to Manhattan and go to school. And real soon I got a little job in the Village, a little place that had about 10 artists, little easels, sketching people. I was making – I didn’t have any money so I was making a little bit of money and opened a little savings account. I remember, you know, doing that. I loved it, you know, because it was the kind of institution that I liked to go, like an art academy sort of, you know, art – just really – it’s an old institution that’s been there, a lot of famous artists have been there.
And I remember in 1966 Salvador Dali went to the school. It was all staged and everything, but he got there in a taxi. I remember the taxi goes right into the school. He goes into the administrative building, and there’s a lady who’s the director, has this – I guess this plaster head of, you know – [inaudible] – on her desk. And he gets there, he goes in there with his cane and everything, takes it, and everybody follows him. He goes out to the – outside on the steps and gets it. He says, this is what I think about art, and he throws that on the ground and breaks it, and he gets in the taxi and leaves. It was really weird, but I mean, he used to do a lot of weird things. At the time I didn’t know who he was, you know? He was a famous artist. I was 18 years old.
Jess Purkis: William Franklin Draper was one of the most influential teachers Treviño had in New York. Draper began his career in the arts as an official war artist in the US Navy during World War II, where he made paintings that conveyed the horrors and heroism of combat. After his return to the US, he became a sought-after portraitist in New York City, and he also taught at the Art Students League.
Treviño elaborated on their dynamic and the moment he was drafted for the Vietnam war:
Jesse Treviño: when I got to the Art Students League, I took several courses but I ran across someone that I haven’t talked to him lately but I’ve seen a little bit in some of the magazines, William F. Draper.And William F. Draper is probably known more for – for his – he’s a combat artist, you know. He’s got murals in the Pentagon. And he’s got a lot of stuff.
But I was so impressed because at the school they had a couple of show windows that face the street and they put some of the instructors’ paintings there, you know. And I was so impressed with his portraits. I remember there was his way, a style of painting. It’s very spontaneous. He loved – a piece from life, you know. And he travels to different places and he’s painted so many important people. Carl Sandburg, a famous painting of John F. Kennedy in the rocking chair, paintings like that. So, you know, to me that – he’s probably one that, when it comes to portraits, he’s a master at it.
I remember that he asked me – I received my letter, my draft notice – no, it was letter of induction when I was there, and I went there to – when I was here in San Antonio, I remember taking the physical and everything, and I had flat feet or something, or sleepwalk, or something, so I was classified 1-Y. And you know when I moved to New York, I had to re-take that physical, and in Brooklyn they just, "okay, you’re all right." They don’t even check you. They just take you right through there, like cattle, you know. So you’re ready to go.
So I got that letter, that draft notice when I was in New York after my first year at the Art Students' League. I remember Mr. Draper, he was trying to – also he couldn’t believe I was, you know, being drafted and everything. And I remember that he was – recommended me to go to Paris because they had like a program, you know, you could go for the summer to Paris. Man, what a great thing that he was going to recommend, with the school. I was going to stay at the place over there where the students stay. Anyway, I got my notice. I had to come back to San Antonio, just enough time to see my mom and then my family and then get into the training for Vietnam, the jungle training.
Jess Purkis: During combat in 1967, Treviño suffered grave injuries from shrapnel and gunfire, a shattering experience that solidified his commitment to making the art that mattered to him. Here's how he recalled the insight and transition in his oral history:
Jesse Treviño: well, this explosion blew me; I would say probably about 50 feet, like pow. I just landed in the mud, I was face down in the mud. I started thinking about everything I did, you know. I didn’t want to die because I felt like I was still a kid. I was young, but then again, I’ve been painting since I was a little boy, you know, so I feel like, you know, I did a lot. I got all the way to New York and I created all these paintings. I was a pretty good artist. And I could tell that my hand, I just knew it was gone as far as my – not my hand but my art because I couldn’t do anything. It was just – I could feel it.
But I remember that I started thinking, and it was so different because up to New York my paintings, the subject matter – I did all kinds of different things but at that point I thought – I guess it was my family, you know, my mom and my neighborhood, and everything I cherish, I guess. You know, my brothers and my friends. And I, at that moment there I was thinking, what could I do? And then, what if I could get another chance? Or what is – right there at that moment I was running out of time. I needed to get things together in my head about what I wanted to do. And I started thinking, these people are the images that I should paint. And there were those images of those paintings that I have done, that you see, you know, as – of that experience, you know. And that’s some kind of reawakening, but you know, that – what I woke up to were things that meant something to me. And I was some type of an artist that – that, I could do those things. I could paint, and learning from William F. Draper, I could take violent works that – make them proud of working with other people behind a desk, of being who he is and all of that, and doing it in a very beautiful way.
George Apodaca: A major turning point in Treviño’s career was the realization of his first mural, Mi Vida, which he painted during 1971–2 in his bedroom after boarding up the windows. After his return from Vietnam, he underwent a series of surgeries to repair lasting damage from his war injuries, but some damage was irreversible, and at the end of 1970, doctors amputated his right hand--his painting hand.
Though he had worked to develop facility with his left hand during his rehabilitation period, Mi Vida was the inflection point for his artistic trajectory. Discrete, realistic images sit atop a flat dark background—pan dulce with coffee, cigarettes, beer, a pill, a silver bracelet with turquoise, a Ford Mustang, a purple heart medal, a woman’s face and hair, a prosthetic hook, and a grey soldier surrounded by a white smudge.
This amalgamation of everyday effects and war trauma marked both Treviño’s pivot to ambitious large-scale works and his resolution to grow as an artist:
Jesse Treviño: I wanted to put things that up to that point were part of mi vida, my life. And I remember looking at the wall and I would see her face, first of all, so out of this – I had to paint things – you know, one of the things, go back, because I think it’s a very important fact. When I was a little boy, my family would go back to Monterrey to visit, and I remember I must have been, I would say, about 10 years old.
And I remember walking downtown through Monterrey, and there were a couple of places where there were artists that would paint these huge – I realized what they were. From the ground up with panels, big panels. I guess they were billboards, big billboards, but they would paint right here, they were painted.
It was so incredible to see an eye this big that was painted, or a face. And I’m talking about just painting – and I would learn through the computer – I’m talking about hand – and I would stand there and look at it. I couldn’t – cigarette billboards and everything, the faces, how they could do that. It was so incredible.
They were really artists who were doing that kind of stuff, but their art wasn’t just real nice bullfighters. I was so impressed with that. I thought – that has always stayed with me.
Well, it was about where I was at that time. I’m looking at what do I want to say and all that. So first I wanted to put her. I think it was very dominant, just as a figure, a face in the back. And with me, my head. Okay. This Purple Heart, you know. So I thought, how am I going to put – and then everything – I guess I’m very honest about composition, how important it is and where to put it and all that.
You know, the idea of a hand, replace my hand, this is what you get, Purple Heart, you get wounded for this. These are the pain-killers that they gave me for many, many years that probably hurt me more than helped me. And cigarettes that I smoked for many, many years too that were part of my life. Pan de dulce with a cup of coffee. My first car. And then over here I’m standing as a soldier.
Then there’s a beer that kind of – here it poured down.
Cary Cordova: It’s really an amazing painting. What did that mean to you to receive the Purple Heart?
Jesse Treviño: Well, I didn’t like it, you know. I think why the fact that it’s like something that you’re awarded, but I have to lose this and lose my hand in order to get this, you know.
Jess Purkis: The inclusion of consumer goods in flat, realist renderings speaks to Treviño’s interest in the ascent of pop art, and his collage-like composition on a black-brown background resonates with the work of his teacher at UT San Antonio, Mel Casas.
George Apodaca: Casas was part of a constellation of outspoken advocates for Chicano artists in the 1970s in San Antonio, including Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, an art historian who boosted Chicano art across the nation. In his 2014 oral history with Gilberto Cardenas, Ybarra-Frausto describes the particularly vital moment for the visual arts of the United States that arose out of San Antonio:
Tomas Ybarra-Frausto: so I began feeling that coming to San Antonio was an epiphany that turned out to be a marvelous example of how rich all our communities are, with all kinds of underground ideas and visual and historic and cultural notions that the artists, the Chicano artists, were incorporating into their work.
Of course, San Antonio not only was a space where some of the earliest Chicano art, like the Con Safos group, with Mel Casas and many of the other artists of his generation created. And it was in Tejas, where some of the early Chicano exhibitions, like Dale Gas and Capirotada . And of course, some of the senior artists were still around, Kathy Vargas, and a lot of the muralists, the first branch of muralists, they were still here, they were still creating. Al Rendon, the photographer, Kathy Vargas, a photographer. They remembered when they had an important group of photography called Ladrones de la Luz. went on then to become significant photographers all over. They had a group of documentary photographers.
So all these artists, many, many whose names escape me, people like César Martínez, and Jesse Treviño, all these artists were creating a lot of work based on all this—the things that surrounded them.
But not only the visual artists, San Antonio was also the cradle of a really significant literary renaissance. Some of the earliest Chicano newspapers and journals in San Antonio were created and very significant poets, and particularly, I think, women poets, like Carmen Tafolla and [inaudible] , but there was a whole cadre of very important women poets and writers, , that created, you know, this renaissance. And this, of course, was also a place where a lot of the cantos where literary—the first sort of examples of massive literary gatherings. Canto al Pueblo was in San Antonio.
George Apodaca: Amid San Antonio's teeming cultural scene, Treviño began his work in murals, large public installations that he realized in concert with local leaders and with an eye to the future of the city. One of his most striking signature works is La Veladora of our Lady of Guadalupe, a massive mosaic ceramic tile work across the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center on the west side of the city.
We spoke with Josh T Franco, the Archives' National Collector, about his experience living and working in San Antonio before he joined the Archives:
Josh T Franco: jesse's really, responsible for like a lot of the built environment that you just exist in.
So, and, you know, like the Veladora was always a landmark for me, but of course not just me. It was a place, you know, to meet the Plaza that's just behind the, the Velodora kind of next to behind it is where Obama came in. That would have been like 2007, eight campaigning. And I remember that's the Plaza we all went to, to shake his hand and, um, Yeah. And the, you know, the, the candle, the huge tiled cut tile mural is like very burned into my head as a landmark, you know, visually and physically. I think, you know, Jesse Treviño will always be known as one of those people who. Made San Antonio look like what it does and I'm giving it it's some of it's icons.
Jesse's murals are great and they marked a lot of spaces in San Antonio, and there are a lot of how people living in San Antonio makes sense of that place. But the Velodora is amazing. Like I just, I don't know if you've been to San Antonio or the west side, but, um, It's an amazing thing like that.
Okay. Let's why there's a, the sense of like, there's kind of an old enburgian thing about it for, you know, like that candle is like in everybody's house and you buy it at the grocery store, which would be HEB if you're in San Antonio or, you know, at the Botanica, it's just a very ubiquitous object.
But here it is like over, at least over two stories, tall, maybe a little taller, um, And made out of cut tile and an actual three-dimensional shape. You know, it's an actual cylinder, it's not, that's where it differs from murals. And then it's not on a flat surface that it's, it's an actual object in space, not, um, a representation of a candle on a wall.
It's just a beautiful object. It's definitely an orientation device if you're on in that part of the west. And it photographs really well. So I think it's just like this. I don't know. That seems like a, I don't want to use the word master work. That seems like a significant contribution to the culture.
Jess Purkis: Murals and public art installations can serve as beacons to communities, they are landmarks for major events and backgrounds for watershed civic moments.
Here's how Treviño described the impetus to create the Veladora during his 2004 interview with Cary Cordova:
Jesse Treviño: I wanted to create a space, a small space, a space within that area so that people would feel safe – and that they had a lot of respect for this image, and that no one had done an image like this like I was going to do it because I was going to do it like I had my painting three dimensional and I was going to do it in tile and I was – and again, it was that symbol, that symbolism that seems so important, that if I could touch people that were there behind their doors, that only come out in the daytime or something, if I could build this Veladora [religious candle] and create it – and create that green space where someone – you could come at any time, drive by there or anything, and it would be – again, it was – when I was in Washington, D.C. and I was so really impressed with the Vietnam wall and the significance. I like the idea of the eternal flame, something there that means something to – and that we needed that sense of – it's important so I wasn't religious, but all the people in that area, they are. Back in their homes they have the little veladoras and all that. And if we had something – come on, we have – in fact, this mural downtown – everything, that seems to happen over there.
Jess Purkis: He goes on to detail the cultural significance he felt in the symbols that come together in the mural, from the vigil candle to the eagle devouring a snake on a cactus, emblems of the people, place, and personal history that Treviño honored:
Jesse Treviño: I think my mother was more religious. There’s a little – there’s a little church here, called – I guess it was La Iglesia de Milagros, just a little Church of Miracles. I remember my mom, when I was a little kid we went over there so that she was going to light a candle because my brother was in Korea, in the Marines at that time. And I felt, this was serious. This is something very serious, my mom believes in it and everything, so she’s going to go in here and light a candle and pray that my brother comes back. We all knew what she was doing when she would do that.
So I always remember that, you know. I even go there once in a while myself, you know. See if it works. Things like that, the religious aspect. But I did these paintings, you know, how – like with the crosses here. The mural that’s here at Lady of the Lake, there’s like a rosary hanging like that with the cross, the Virgin de Guadelupe, it’s got to be part of it. I think that was sort of the argument of when we did the Veladora, that why were we going to do something like this on that building, the theater. The theater belongs to the city, a public property. And as an artist, again, I see the symbol more as a cultural icon because I know that you don’t have to be religious or Catholic or anything, but this is part of our culture. If you take this away completely, if you don’t see it, I feel like you’re taking something that’s been with us forever.
Jess Purkis: We spoke with Gabriel Velasquez, President and CEO of the Avenida Guadalupe Association and longtime friend and collaborator to Treviño, about how Treviño's work both preserves and invigorates tradition in San Antonio:
Gabriel Velasquez: there's a lot of wonderful places that get forgotten and get torn down or, or, or most definitely are not repurposed. Beginning with the Avenida, that that building, was, was given new life through a painting. When we think about the Santa Rosa and the, and the spirit of healing, the same thing occurred. So there's a power that, that Jessie injects the city, right into the lifeblood of the city through what he cares about that influence, I think it's kind of beyond. And I don't want to say it's beyond art, it's Jesse. It's, it's who he is and what he, what he stands for. I would say that like with any other artists, it isn't the man equal to the art.
It's more the spirit of the man, the value of the man manifested in the art. So they're there, they're there they're different, but at some point I think maybe the art is like, uh, for Jessie can be almost like a, like a popcorn trail. As far as he's gone has helped him find his way back to, to the values that, that it, that were instilled in him.
And so, so is that Mexican American that will travel culturally into Chicanismo. He would have that popcorn trail that would travel him back to Mexican American.
George Apodaca: Public art's place in history and its relation to our rituals of memorial were also critical for Treviño as he created a mural to honor veterans at San Antonio Public Library's central branch, which was designed by Ricardo Legoretta. In his oral history, he likens the process to building an altar:
Jesse Treviño: what was important about those times, there were several things, okay. And of course the theaters and the river, the downtown, all that. But what I was thinking is, what about all the people that lost their lives in World War II, that were important too? And I was thinking about Ricardo Legoretta, the architect that he is and all that, about the Mexican connection of the architecture of the mural.
And then what I was thinking about the veterans and people – and I think, what about an altar in this – in this museum, and I’m just looking at it without thinking about this. I’m thinking about, I had already gotten the wall, it was on the lower level. Within this beautiful architectural sculpture there has to be – there’s a mural, and that that mural pays homage to the veterans.
How am I going to do it? I’m going to do it like an altar. So that whole wall was an altar for me.
George Apodaca: National collector Josh T Franco charted a few of the conceptual and formal roots of the altar in Chicano art that proliferated in the latter half of the 20th century.
Josh T Franco: So yeah, I mean, we've seen altars, you know, in the second half of the 20th century, sort of infiltrate fine art spaces, you know, largely through the work of Amalia Mesa Bains, Pépon Osorio, Judy Baca, Rimer Cardillo, Angel Suarez Rosado, there's just a lot of artists who brought that very evolved, developed long held long practice art form.
Uh, just into the new context that they were getting access to starting, you know, in the sixties and on. It's just such a significant concept in Chicano art because it bridges, you know, the things we produce as artists, you know, when we think of ourselves in that way and are moving and.
Art schools or museums and galleries, but also they're very much a domestic practice and something that's at home and something people are familiar with much like the Veladora. So I think Jesse just, like so many Chicano artists successfully do living in that space and really confusing productively that space between the private and the public. So, here you see the alter really perform as a concept rather than a form.
Cause he's still painting, you know, conventional mural on the wall, but for him to get there with this particular one honoring veterans, you know, I, I assume because there's death involved in, because it's about Memorial that an alter makes a lot of senses that the conceptual form to hold in one's mind while painting.
Jess Purkis: In 2020, the Archives interviewed Treviño again for our pandemic oral history project, which chronicled the art world's response to the then-emergent covid-19 pandemic. Between his 2004 and 2020 interviews, a great deal happened for Treviño--he created one of the largest ceramic murals in the United States, the Spirit of Healing; he helped to bring a new Latino cultural arts center to San Antonio; and he was also featured in the exhibition Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Reflecting on the early crises of the pandemic and what he'd want future audiences to know, Treviño spoke again of the Veladora and the role he sees for art in the community:
Jesse Treviño: so I created the Virgen de Guadalupe, the virgin of Guadalupe, in the form of a candle, like the candles you see in the glass jar, with that image in tile. And it was about a half-a-million dollar project that I helped raise money to to create. Because that candle, in the homes there when I was a little kid growing up, is called the Guadalupe community. There was a green space there where I wanted to create this sculpture because I felt that that image was very powerful, and the symbolism of that candle sort of could light up the whole community. Not just one house. And, so, if people could start coming out to see that image, talk to each other, and, you know, be able to interact, and tell stories of how, for many, many years, it was a great community, you know, 100 years ago, and how different it was. So, I wanted that to happen again. We needed to, instead of, you know, everybody getting locked up in their houses, they would come out and interact.
You know what, there's people from all over the world that go to that candle because there's nothing like it in the whole world. That candle, the size of it, and the way it's created—it's made out of concrete and glass block and ceramic tile, mosaic tile. You know, it takes about three or four years to create those murals, you know? So those are the kind of projects I want to last hundreds of years, and sometimes it takes other people that will help me to actually create it, usually students.
George Apodaca: The glazed ceramic tiles hark back to the New Deal murals undertaken alongside the San Antonio riverwalk in the 1940s, threading another strand of history through Treviño's work.
For more on the lasting influences of the New Deal, check out episodes 1 through 4 of our first season.
Gabriel Velasquez, President and CEO of the Avenida Guadalupe Association, told us about the path Treviño has blazed and the substantial legacy he's built in San Antonio and beyond:
Gabriel Velasquez: San Antonio has a very rich history in its Mexican culture. So, as to say that, even as far as the battle of the Alamo, right, St. George was always a Mexican city. Coming, into time, let's say we take the greatest generation. Right. Which is a time that we're all very fond of, of a certain age, right there can remember our grandparents and the, and, and the, the, the values of Mexican-Americans for us to San Antonio. Right. And just Mexican-American Jesse had one foot isn't he, he's not unlike baby boomers, right, of one foot and their greatest generation and they one foot of the baby boomer generation.
It seems to me that Jesse has held on to much of the value of that earlier generation, , but as, as things change, one touchstone that San Antonio has, is Jesse Treviño. How influential is Jesse in terms of the direction that the city was going? Well, we can talk about, you know, kind of the, the division and the economic separation of even just our downtown San Antonio, where much of the development went east and very little bit went west. Well, the Alameda theater, the movement that Jesse has been such an important part of he's he's been an advocate for so many things for the 1% public art that was included in city contracts to, we think about the Alameda theater.
The Alameda theater through its bumpy road is just recently receiving the full funding that it's going to take to rehabilitate. Entirely , the theater itself. You'll hear very little bit about how these influences, move things in shape things and create equity.
So to a large extent Jesse's influence in San Antonio has been one of those things that get generational, right. That on the World War II side was about self-sufficiency moving forward. I don't want to say pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but I would definitely say having your own vision and your own self determination, Jesse has led that attitude for, an entire generation and he's had to do so much of it alone because you know, as a leader, there's nobody in front of him. in, in the arts, that is not an easy position to have. It's a very hard position to have.
And I'm very fortunate to have been so close to, to be able to see that reality that you, you know, it's not a story. It's, it's a, it's a heavy weight to carry and to be this influencer that at some level. is not Necessarily known for influences outside of the arts, but most definitely has shaped an entire vantage point from which to appreciate that Mexican American.
Jess Purkis: For Treviño, scale does not just mean building gigantic public artworks, it also means longevity and sowing the seeds for a brighter future. He spoke of creating cultral focal points and the legacy he wants to leave in his murals during his 2020 interview:
Jesse Treviño: That mural could be seen just passing through San Antonio. You don't even have to stop. If you just pass through it, you can't miss it. You know, the main corridor, I-35: you pass through there, upper level—and it's called The Spirit of Healing, okay? It's a hospital, a children's hospital now: one of the best children's hospitals in the world. And that mural has been there over 20 years: 23 years or 25 years. It's a mosaic, and it's an outdoor mural, and it was built so that it would last 500 years, you know, because, you know, I want people to remember me in 500 years when they see it, that, "Oh, Jesse Treviño did that."
Michelle Herman: For show notes, works cited, and additional resources visit aaa.si.edu/articulated.
This podcast is produced by Ben Gillespie and Michelle Herman from the Archives of American Art.
It was edited by the team at Better Lemon Creative Audio.
Our music comes from Sound and Smoke composed by Viet Cuong and performed by the Peabody Wind Ensemble with Harlan Parker conducting.
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The Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations from individuals like you to sustain our ongoing operations and special programs like Articulated. To support our work, please visit our website, aaa.si.edu/support. Thank you.
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