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Arts & Culture

Councilman Bernal Trying To Beat Tagging With Murals

Tagging is a persistent problem in San Antonio and District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal talked about how he’s trying to fight it.

“We take buildings that have been tagged significantly and we offer building owner an opportunity for a free mural,” he said.

Bernal said that their technique is pretty simple.

“We’ve got artists that we have in waiting and we get the artist and the building owner together," he said. "They come up with a concept and then we pay for the paint and scaffolding and those sorts of things.”

Until recently the city has just been painting over the tagging with solid paint. But Bernal said that doesn't really work that well.

“You paint and they tag and you paint and they tag; it’s almost like a conversation. And we just need a new solution to an old problem," he said. "And everybody knows that if you put art on a wall, that wall gets tagged less. So we thought, why don’t we take the art route on top of our constant painting and see if that works.”

I asked him if it has worked.

“So far it has. Any art is tagged less than no art at all,” Bernal said.

The councilman has been responsible for the creation of several murals. I asked him to describe the  most recent.

“You’re looking at a huge warehouse. The first half of the mural is a waving Texas flag with very bright blues and reds," he said. "Where the star is — inside the star — is a G for Gillette, because it’s on the Gillette Building. In the center are the letters SA, but the color scheme is the color scheme of the old Fiesta colors that the Spurs used, so it’s sort of Spurs inspired. And then on the right you’ve got waves of teal and yellow. You see the Tower of the Americas, you see the Alamo. It’s beautiful."

Henry Cantu is the artist who created the Mural. Bernal had words of praise for Cantu.

“He’s a great representative for the depth of the talent pool that we have in this city," Bernal said. "There are a lot of folks who are wildly talented who are looking for places to display those talents.”

That’s the short range. In the longer range, Bernal wants something more.

“At a certain point I think we ought to have a municipal murals program,” he said.

I asked Bernal just what it is about public art that made us so happy, and he gave me one of the best answers I’ve ever gotten in quite a while.

“Uh…who cares? It does. So we ought to keep doing it," he said.