When he was elected Poteet Mayor last year, Willie Leal Jr. had one goal in mind: bringing color and life back to town.
“At the end of last school year, I had this idea to paint murals in the downtown area and I wanted to get the school involved,” said Mayor Leal. “I reached out to Poteet High School art teacher, Ruth Olivares who was all for it, and had me pitch the idea to the students who jumped on board, too.”
However, with the hot summer break and the start of the new school year, the project was put off for some time. Meanwhile, Poteet Art Club students were given the task to sketch ideas for the murals: Poteet culture.
During Spring Break this year, students spent their nights sketching out the artwork on the walls with a projector and their days painting.
Poteet sophomore, Jacob De Le Garza, is the artist behind 95% of the artwork of the four murals in downtown: (1) Strawberry Tower/ Poteet ISD/Strawberry Festival Carnival, (2) Fightin’ Aggies, (3) Tejano Conjunto and (4) Strawberry Growers.
“I think this is nice for the city and brings color to our town,” said De La Garza, who plans to attend the San Antonio Institution of the Arts for Character Animation. “We’re changing our town and it’s nice to be a part of it.”
The town pride didn’t stop with the city and schools coming together, but residents dedicated time to stop by and offer encouragement. People brought breakfast, lunch, drinks, snacks and words of encouragement as the students worked their Spring Break away.
“It really made the students feel appreciated. It’s definitely helping with their own sense of community and belonging,” said Olivares, Poteet HS art teacher.
Olivares stated the murals really brought the community together and turned out to be so much more than she anticipated.
“I have to commend Mayor Leal for his hard work and dedication to bringing life back to Poteet,” she said, “When I was young and in downtown, it was booming with people walking the streets everywhere, and that’s what we want to see again. We want to see our town come alive again.”
Mayor Leal’s goal with the murals was to improve the community of Poteet and make it a better place. With the kids doing 100% of the work, the city provided all of the necessary tools out of the city’s pocket.
“It’s a small price to pay to beautify our town,” said Mayor Leal.
The project even pulled in some Poteet alumni who wanted to help, including ’19 alumni and freshman at Palo Alto College, Dalia Montes.
“We needed something like this for our town,” said Montes who is studying Graphic Design and Digital Art. “This will impact others’ viewpoints positively on Poteet and show them we are not just about the Strawberry Festival.”
Mayor Leal would like to thank Mrs. Olivares, the students, Will Bates for lending his scaffold and the great support of the public.
“They have responded in a great way toward these kids and I’m really impressed with how it’s turned out,” said Mayor Leal.
Helping with the sketching, painting and tools were Poteet ISD students, alumni and city workers: Ruth Olivares, Jacob De La Garza, Melody Pena, D’andra Calhoun, Liliana Gonzalez, Tyler Rader, Kimberly Radar, Rabya Ali, Dalia Montes, Fabian Munoz, Jaime Valdez, Derren Del Toro, Bernie Moreno, Cody Graff, Ally Bermea, Ricardo Nata and Mia Ortiz.
“The City of Poteet has thrown down the gauntlet,” said Mayor Leal who is challenging other Atascosa County cities. “Let’s see what you can do.”
While keeping in mind to practice social distancing during these estranged times, be sure to check out the murals on the side of Poteet City Hall located at 491 Ave. H.