By Gaige Davila
A new mural in Laguna Heights is impossible not to notice when driving from Highway 100 headed towards Port Isabel and South Padre Island.
The mural’s central subject, an Azteca woman, has been locking eyes with drivers and passersby for the last week, after local mononymous artist Serkit finished the work on June 16.
But the mural has been getting attention since early May, when Serkit started painting the mural on the side of the former U.S. Shell Inc. storage building, painting in the late evenings to avoid the sun and heat. In all, Serkit estimates it took 40 hours to complete.
Serkit said the mural was inspired by Aztec culture, native fauna and the alebrije art style, created and popularized by Pedro Linares in the late 1930s. The colorful, complex-patterned mythical creatures came from nightmares Linares had when he was sick.
The left side of the mural features an alebrije pelican and Texas horny toad, representing the land, on a sky-blue background. The right side of the mural has jellyfish and a sea turtle, laid on a darker blue background representing the sea.
“I didn’t want to do (the mural) realistic, I was trying to do something different,” he said. Serkit said most of the murals he’s done are in his hometown of Edinburg and in Brownsville. “The most important thing was for it to be colorful. A big *expletive* wall of color. It’s been blank for I don’t know how long. It needed something to pop.”
The base layers of the mural were made with house paint, then the alebrijes were spray painted on, freehand, with several layers. Serkit applied color theory to the mural throughout, putting complementary colors together in each alebrije.
Serkit had been looking at the wall for the last six years, he said, as a potential mural project. He got permission from the building’s owner earlier this year after sharing a rough idea and his previous artwork. He started painting a month later after nailing down the initial sketches for the mural.
“That’s part of the process, being able to sketch it out, paint it
out, especially when it’s so big,” he said. “It’s a challenge, and I like it.”
The mural is Serkit’s first in Port Isabel, and it likely won’t be his last art project in the Laguna Madre area. He said he prefers to work uninhibited creatively, as he did with this mural on Madison and Highway 100, but will happily do commissioned work.
“I didn’t have anything over here, and I needed to leave my mark and tell people that I’m here.”