El Paso is a bold and diverse metropolitan with a rich, blended history that’s well worth getting to know. History buffs can discover the land’s legacy in Sun City museums, eateries and other attractions, but locals know the most authentic historic encounter is to be had in El Paso’s long-standing communities. Many area neighborhoods date back to the early 1800s and beyond, each offering a distinct perspective on the borderland experience. Though it’s not the city’s first settlement, El Segundo Barrio is a great starting place to discover borderland culture. Located in southernmost El Paso, El Segundo Barrio was settled by Mexican immigrants during the late nineteenth century. And over the decades, El Segundo Barrio has become a valued community not only for its tenure; El Segundo Barrio has a booming, homegrown art scene.
Muralists and street artists borne out of the El Segundo Barrio community have been adorning facades of neighborhood buildings with breathtaking works since the 1970s, creating a unique and captivating open-air museum that both guests and residents can, and do, admire. El Segundo Barrio is host to literally dozens of murals, with more creations decking outward walls every day. The murals collectively represent important themes within the Chicano culture – like family, heritage, resilience, faith, music and community.
The Segundo Barrio mural is an imperative during your walking tour. Completed in 1975 by Arturo Avalos, Gabriel Ortega, Pablo Schaffino and Pascual Ramírez – who were collectively known as Los Muralistas Del Barrio – the Segundo Barrio mural was created as a testament to community pride and Chicano heritage in a period when El Segundo Barrio faced the threat of growing urbanization in Downtown El Paso. A hallmark of the vibrant mural is the use of geometric Aztec design, recalling the culture of origin with which many area residents strongly identify. The Segundo Barrio mural is located at 513 Father Rahm Avenue on the west wall of an apartment complex.
Boys & Girls Club Mural
Werc Alvarez installed this mural on the wall of the Boys and Girls Club at 801 S. Florence in 2012 to depict the youth-led artistic rebirth taking place in the Segundo Barrio community. There’s a compelling verve in the mural that stirs the senses, and the phrase ‘in living color’ is the perfect fit to describe the feat. A rich and saturated spectrum of hues almost literally jumps off the wall at you, encouraging a return to joviality and creativity in the mural-gazers. If you’re feeling sluggish, the Boys and Girls Club mural will definitely jolt you with energy. Of course, there are plenty more mesmerizing murals to set your sights on in El Segundo Barrio; we didn’t want to give them all away here. So head south to El Paso’s second ward, and see the community through the deft paint strokes that don walls of El Segundo Barrio.
Art lovers, history fans and people who like visiting treasured neighborhoods should plan a walking tour through El Paso’s only alfresco art gallery soon. You’ll find a diverse collection of commissioned murals by celebrated artists in the community as well as street pieces, tucked away in corridors like hidden gems, by nameless painters. There’s a bold, beautiful painting around just about every corner in El Segundo Barrio, but here’s three must-see murals to get you started as you traverse the ward’s longstanding streets.
Sacred Heart Mural
Located nearby at 231 Father Rahm Ave, you’ll find the Sacred Heart mural, which was commissioned by the church of its namesake in 2007. Painters Francisco Delgado and Mauricio Olague aided by 50 talented students from Bowie High School combine central icons of the Catholic Faith with symbols and figures that are important to the Segundo Barrio community. The mural is a telling tapestry of immigration hardships, Mexican pride, the contributions of revered religious leaders and more. With so much symbolism, the mural is sure to pull a long, pensive gaze out of all passersby.