La Lotería Returns

Beloved mural to be restored

Parts of the original Lotería mural show through the new image. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The restoration of the Eastside's iconic Lotería mural, which was recently painted over during a SXSW-sponsored project, starts this week after receipt of a $13,000 check from SXSW to fund its repainting. Bertha Delgado, president of the East Town Lake Citizens Neighborhood Assoc­i­ation, confirmed she had received the funds from SXSW organizers to start the restoration on July 6.

The mural had stood for more than 20 years on the wall of what is now the Cycleast bike shop at 1619 E. Cesar Chavez. In March, as part of SXSW's Impossible Wall Project showcasing international artists, Australian artist Rone was commissioned to paint a new image over the mural. This earned the ire of Eastside residents, who were not consulted beforehand, and who saw it as yet another example of the gentrification and commercialization that is changing the face of the neighborhood. After the reaction to the new mural was reported (see "Eastward Expansion," April 10), SXSW officials expressed contrition, issuing a public apology to residents and vowing to help restore the original Lotería.

In a recent interview, Delgado said the funds would be used for painting supplies and to pay neighborhood artists set to work on the restoration – including Joe Arellano, Gabriel Estrada, Raymond Garza, Mando Martinez, and original Lotería artist Felipe Garza. In an effort to reclaim the neighborhood's iconic symbols, Delgado has organized a nonprofit, dubbed Arte Texas, Inc., to fund restoration not only of La Lotería but also of other neighborhood murals – including one at the Metz Pool facility featuring a Latino baseball player and another on a wall of the former Holly Street Power Plant depicting neighborhood scenes – that were part of the Holly Shores/Edward Rendon Sr. Master Plan that outlined a neighborhood vision.

The newly formed nonprofit has a board of directors comprised of artists and neighborhood leaders, including Desiree Alvarez, a youth coordinator who is studying for her master's degree in San Antonio. The focus on future generations of Eastsiders will be further exemplified by participation in the Lotería restoration by students from Eastside Memorial and Stephen F. Austin high schools, Delgado said. "With everything that's going on, we decided that no one is taking us seriously," Delgado said of the motivation that spurred creation of the nonprofit. "We want to be in control of our own projects and be responsible for our own funding. Latinos need to have ownership."

Painters will take advantage of the opportunity to update the Lotería mural – the watermelon will be replaced by the face of Selena, for example, and the card for "La Dama" will be replaced by "La Quinceañera" in something of a nod to a new generation. Crews from the Austin Film School and journalists from bilingual newspaper La Prensa will be on hand to record the restoration for posterity, Delgado said. The project is scheduled to be unveiled Aug. 1.

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<i>La Lotería</i> Returns
La Lotería Returns
Painted-over mural to be restored

Tony Cantú, April 24, 2015

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La Lotería, Bertha Delgado, Cycleast, Eastside, gentrification

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