Have you seen those murals under the Lancaster Street Bridge? You know, the 36 eye-popping paintings on nine pillars, created over a 10-month period by an unbelievably-talented-but-as-yet-unsung local art hero as a gift to the city he has come to love? Who is this mystery artist? Why, it’s UNO, of course!
Born and raised in Mexico City, UNO moved to Brooklyn, NY. After time in Chicago and Los Angeles, he found himself back in Mexico City. In 1991, he ran into some friends who offered him a place to stay in Fort Worth if he was interested. He took them up on their offer and the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, there’s history, of course, but there’s future, too. UNO loved making art as a kid. He had a talent for it, but living in Mexico City and in New York, art was not a priority. Making a living was. There are few places in the world for art like New York City, though, and UNO soaked it all in. From the famous museums to the infamous subway stations, UNO was fascinated. “The graffiti was a big inspiration for me. Riding the train from Brooklyn to the Bronx, the walls were all covered with it. I loved the lines and all the colors.”
In Fort Worth, UNO began making and then designing furniture. He took up sculpting. After a successful showing at the Main Street Arts Festival, UNO began sculpting full-time. “I thought, why all of this effort making furniture when I have the talent to make better things?”
As a sculptor, UNO built a solid reputation, but when he changed to painting, he lost his sculpture clients and his following. He said, “In a way, I was starting from zero again, but in painting I found my own language.”
Unfortunately, UNO’s painting career was slow to build, and he was struggling. At a talk at the Kimbell, a panelist said artists need to be as creative marketing their art as they are in creating it. At the time, UNO was working on a small mural on Hemphill Street. Then he was approached by the Fort Worth Graffiti Abatement Program (GAP).
GAP works to remove graffiti throughout the city and educates citizens to its negative effects. Additionally, GAP works with local artists to create murals to cover graffiti. GAP offered UNO the commission to paint the Lancaster Bridge murals. He jumped at the chance to market himself while giving back to his adoptive city. “I am very grateful to Fort Worth. It is my home. My kids were born here. Fort Worth has given me the opportunity to pursue my career as an artist… This is a gift I could give to the city.”
While painting the Lancaster bridge murals, UNO was approached by a man who wanted to work with and learn from UNO as he worked. UNO spent over 400 hours creating the murals. His patron bought materials and lent an occasional hand. Around the same time, UNO was a vendor in a craft show at Will Rogers Coliseum. “I felt like an extra-terrestrial at that show. It was weird, and I didn’t feel like I belonged there.” He only sold two small paintings; barely enough to cover his expenses, but…
One of the people who bought a work at the show was a Californian with deep pockets and a real appreciation for UNO’s work; a few months later, UNO sold 15 more pieces to the collector.
In June of 2023, a commission for a mural on South Main Street was announced. While UNO was ultimately not chosen, Megan Henderson, Director of Events and Communications for Near Southside, remembered him from the talk at the Kimbell. Megan had been keeping an eye on UNO and offered him the opportunity he’d been waiting for.
On Gallery Night 2023, UNO’s first solo show, Together, will open at The Pool, a Near Southside Art Space located at 1801 8th Avenue, and will run until September 30th.
“It’s kind of weird. I am very happy about the show but also nervous,” UNO said. He is also quick to point out that the labor isn’t his alone. “I am only able to paint full-time because of the support of my wife. She also works very hard and works two jobs. I could not do this without her.”
UNO painted murals under a bridge as a gift to Fort Worth. However, the real gift to our city is the artist himself, and we cannot wait to see what he has in store for us in the future.