Alpine murals put locals on the map

The mural on the old H&L Store at the corner of Avenue F and 10th Street, now a private residence, was created by local artist Feather Radha to honor the heritage and memory of the Gonzalez family. 

With Nancy Whitlock’s new map of Alpine murals, visitors can enjoy town from a local’s perspective.

The guide includes every mural Whitlock and friends could find, with over 50, ranging from Kokernot Park to neighborhood streets. Many are concentrated in the downtown district.

Whitlock, of Whitlock Studio and Fine Art located on 6th Street, sees the murals as a positive reflection of Alpine residents. She’s engaged in efforts to promote downtown alleys as outdoor galleries featuring local art.

There is already a growing number of murals by well-known cowboy artist Stylle Read, including the History of Texas Rangers on the east wall of the Prescription Shop. His work alone has put Alpine on the tourist map.

But Whitlock sees the numerous instances of folksy wall art, largely created by locals, as being integral to Alpine identity, and equally worthy of attention.

One of her favorites is off the beaten path on the old H&L Store at the corner of F Avenue and 10th Street. Both the store and mural have a special place in Alpine history.

The mural, designed and painted by local artist Feather Radha, depicts a romantic garden scene with a man playing guitar as a woman picks flowers. Doves and saints watch over them. The mural is done in the traditional Mexican style close to Feather’s heart.

“I lived in Mexico for 30 years, and raised my kids there,” she said.

Radha has had a hand in many murals throughout the Big Bend region, including a 63-foot long mural at the old Lajitas Trading Post depicting local history, and several on the walls of private residences.

The H&L Store mural was commissioned in the late-2000s by Lety Gonzalez. The store had been owned and operated by her parents since the 1950s, but closed in 2008 when her mother fell ill. Gonzalez remembers the store as being the neighborhood pit stop, and a labor of love for her parents.

“Dad had a baseball team, and they would all meet there before game day,” she recalled.

When her parents passed away, Gonzalez wanted to honor their memory and their connection to the neighborhood and the store.

“I wanted something to reflect the barrio, and also my parents. My mom loved flowers and always planted them. The Virgen de Guadalupe is for my mom, and Dad was devout to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Gonzalez explained.

The mural is full of personal and cultural symbols, with nopales, roses, bluebonnets, and other details.

“When Feather first showed me the sketch of the idea, I was amazed,” Gonzalez said.

The H&L Store is now a private residence, but Gonzalez doesn’t mind if people take photos.

It’s just one example of the personal connections inherent in the local murals found throughout town.

Whitlock’s mural map takes visitors on a tour of all Alpine’s murals, and will be available in downtown stores and at Alpine Visitor’s Center during Artwalk.

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