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Houston Artist Talks Inspiration Behind His Bright New East End Mural

CultureMap Creates

May 18, 2020

The new "Optimism Starts With You" mural that has gone up on a wall in the East End District has brought a bright burst of color to the area.

It's the latest project in Frost Bank's Opt for Optimism campaign, in partnership with CultureMap. The colorful new artwork is based around the idea that optimism may start with one person, but it can easily ripple out through small acts and thoughtful moments, therefore changing the people and communities around you. The mural's silhouette is meant to encourage passersby to stand in its place for photo opps.

"For me, optimism is a way out of a situation," says Mario E. Figueroa Jr., the local artist known as GONZO247 who painted the mural. "A lot of time people get stuck in this cycle and feel like there's no way out. More than ever, everyone needs to be optimistic and know that things are going to get better, and you're also a part of that solution."

Watch an interview with the artist, GONZO247.

GONZO247 is from the East End himself, and is an early pioneer in the graffiti and street art culture of Houston. Inspired by hip hop and his home city, he's known for supporting his fellow artists and lifting up others who also want to make a positive mark on their community.

He is hoping that the mural will remind everyone that it's okay to start small. "The smallest thing anyone can do to make an impact on their community, as crazy as it sounds, is just smile," he says.

And if you're looking for some fresh air, stop by and snap a pic with the uplifting mural at 2219 Canal St., on the southeast-facing wall on the corner of Canal and Navigation. Be sure to tag @culturemaphou and #optforoptimism with your photo.