It started with a conversation on the balcony of The Grove at Discovery Green. Looking out over the Embassy Suites, graffiti artist GONZO247 said to Nick Massad Jr., president and CEO of American Liberty Hospitality, “I’d love to paint the side of your building.”
About a year later, Massad approached GONZO to paint a mural, 15 feet wide by 40 feet tall, smack-dab between the entrances of the dual-brand Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown on Crawford.
Given only one directive – to include the phrase “H-Town” – GONZO hoped to create a visual welcome not only for the hotel, but also for the city of Houston.
“My goal is to create a look that people from all walks of life can identify with, [so when] someone from one part of the globe is visiting the city and sees the wall, they might be able to connect with a part of it – either as something that they’ve seen in their hometown or something that they’ve experienced throughout their travels,” the artist says.
To do this, GONZO let himself be inspired by Houston’s diversity and humanity’s commonalities, which he’s seen firsthand during his own travels. In the resulting cultural hybrid of patterns and colors, GONZO found that much like a mash-up on the radio, the BPMs matched up just right, coming together to create something new but familiar – and leading right to H-Town.
“You have all these avenues, all these roads, from all walks of life,” says GONZO of the mural. “They’re all coming together, they’re all coming from different parts, and they’re all coming to Houston.”
The “roads” are colored in with what GONZO calls the “bastard children” – colors that get significantly less love, like tangerine, teal or fuchsia — mixing them together to create a whole new family.
“Some are straighter than others. Some have a little twist on the way. Some have a clear-cut path, some don’t,” he adds. “[But] all these roads, different parts, different people, all come together to create the city.”
Though still a day’s work from completing the mural, GONZO can see the finish line, his Pandora playlist blaring, propelling him forward and keeping him pumped. (It’s James Brown, if you’re wondering, though he admits to Run-DMC and Los Cadetes de Linares being favorites too.)
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“Whenever I paint, I think positive. I’m positive as I’m painting and – without sounding too much like a hippie – I feel like as I’m painting, it’s almost like I’m embedding that positive energy within the art work, within the wall, like it’s getting captured through the paint,” says GONZO. “So, whenever the sun hits the wall, that positive energy is reflecting off onto the viewers.”
Or, simply put, he hopes you feel good standing in front of the wall and see that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s knowing you’re on a journey and looking forward to the final destination.”
And in this case, the destination is Houston.
GONZO247’s unnamed mural can be viewed between the entrances to the Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown at 710 Crawford. For more information about GONZO247, visit gonzo247.com.