Artist William Hernandez works on his mural titled "Los Portales de mi Tierra" (The Portals of my Land) on the wall of Supermercado Mexico, 970 SE Oak St. in Hillsboro.Samantha Swindler/ The Oregonian
Two new murals in Hillsboro’s Calle Diez neighborhood are part of a project to both celebrate the Latino community and train new mural artists.
The first mural, by veteran artist William Hernandez, can be found on the side of Supermercado Mexico at 970 S.E. Oak St.
The second, still underway by first-time muralist Abdiel Flores Ubaldo, is being painted on the shopping center across the street at 460 S.E. 10th Ave., under Hernandez’s guidance.
Both murals are part of the “Going Public” skill-building intensive hosted by the Regional Arts & Culture Council. In June, the pilot program paired a group of five emerging muralists of color with five artist mentors. The pairs attended workshops together and created sketches and designs over the summer.
By next year, each mentee artist will have completed an outdoor mural in the Portland Metro area.
Sal Mayoral, RACC’s public art project manager, said the goal was to create community and support for emerging BIPOC artists.
“It’s already hard enough in many ways to be an artist, but I think especially when you’re coming from underrepresented backgrounds, it’s even more important to identify other folks who can support you,” Mayoral said. “The artists have been really generous with each other. I noticed different mentor/mentee pairings have blossomed into regular communication. It’s gone beyond what we initially thought would happen.”
Four of the resulting murals will be painted in Portland. In Hillsboro, where the fifth mural was planned, city staff loved the idea so much, they funded a second mural helmed by Hernandez.
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For his 20-by-30-foot mural on the side of the grocery, Hernandez drew upon his childhood memories.
“I grew up in downtown Lima, Peru, and my first childhood memory is the markets like the Saturday market,” Hernandez said. “You walk through and see these massive textures of colors, flavors, smells and people. Gathering people, for me, was the concept for this mural.”
The scene he painted shows a woman holding lilies, surrounded by fruits, flowers and a bird among a cityscape.
Flores Ubaldo’s mural, still in progress along a 10-by-40-foot wall, will feature people playing among a vibrant field of sunflowers.
The murals are the first ever commissioned directly by the city of Hillsboro, and they’ll be located within the city’s new Cultural Arts District, which encompasses downtown and the historically Latino neighborhoods along 10th Avenue, also known as Calle Diez.
“The work that we’re doing here in Hillsboro is creative place-making,” said Carol Tatch, RACC’s chief of external operations. “We’re making a space that is inclusive of everyone who lives in the district. It’s saying, ‘You are welcome, you’re reflected in the art.’ "
Flores Ubaldo grew up in Hillsboro and has a background working with digital art, watercolor and acrylic, but this is his first mural.
“It was just part of getting myself out there and trying something new,” Flores Ubaldo said. “I thought I should just give myself that shot to do something for the community because I love this place. This is my home.”
A mural can be great exposure for a new artist, but it’s also a daunting task that requires permits, weatherproofing and painting on a massive scale.
“I’ve been sending (Hernandez) pictures of my work and ideas and my questions and concerns about actually doing the mural since I don’t know any of the technical things, like how to grid out your design, how to transfer it proportionally,” Flores Ubaldo said.
Flores Ubaldo borrowed a projector from the Hillsboro Library, where he works, to project an enlarged mural outline and trace it onto the wall.
At the same time, Hernandez worked on his own project across the street.
That was something the city of Hillsboro considered when proposing locations for the artwork.
“We started thinking about the relationship between the mentor and mentee artists,” said Karl LeClair, Hillsboro’s public art supervisor. “So the artists, while they’re working, can have that communication and contact, but then the murals will kind of live on in conversation with each other as a result of this entire program.”
— Samantha Swindler, sswindler@oregonian.com, @editorswindler
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