Whether it be a hippo for Everything Hippo in Hutto, Texas, or a Tamaulipas Crow in a Brownsville landfill, whales and dolphins for an optical shop in Mission, the Dallas Cowboy’s for a huge fan in Edinburg or massive falcons for the Los Fresnos High School, artist L. “Wichi” Guevara Jr., takes his talent to a whole new dimension.
A native of Brownsville, Wichi has paint in his blood.
“My dad was a wonderful artist who would paint buccaneers with women dressed in swashbuckling high boots and the men with daggers in their mouths,” he said with a grin. “He would show me art done by him from the early ‘50s Port Isabel yearbooks. My dad would also draw in front of me during my childhood.”
With his barrio artist friends, Wichi would challenge others to see who could draw the fastest and finish a drawing, taking for their inspiration the old comic books of Ironman, Spiderman, Dare Devil, Captain America and Batman.
“I grew up drawing all those poses and now I teach art,” he said. “I’m very blessed to be in the profession which comes natural to me.”
Playing football, basketball and running track were part of his life, but if you were trying to find Wichi, chances are it was the art room where you’d find him, eating his lunch and finishing another piece.
A favorite high school art teacher, Mr. Lovett, led his students by teaching them to use both their creativity and own personal style — taking his art to another level.
“I was with him in Homer Hanna High School in Art IV and learned how to cut loose and do some abstraction, trying different things with the line, colored pencils and acrylic paints,” Wichi said.
Often Wichi would find himself in “the zone” when he painted, that sense of the painting (mainly acrylics and latex these days) flowing out of him, sending him into a state of euphoria.
Though on one hand he enjoyed the camaraderie he found from the people stopping to chat or ask questions while he worked, when Wichi found himself in “the zone,” he simply wanted to float on the wave of creativity encompassing him and do nothing but … paint. It’s still the same when he paints today.
Curious to learn more about this love of his, he went to TSC and Corpus Christi State University, earning his bachelor’s degree, to learn more about brush strokes, color, techniques, and theory under Bruno Andrade. It was also where he finally was able to understand the mysterious comment his beloved Mr. Lovett made back in high school.
“You need to paint big,” Mr. Lovett said to Wichi.
“I wasn’t sure what he meant,” said Wichi.
However, while pursuing his masters degree in art from Texas A&M-Kingsville, the answer finally came to him. Taking it literally, Wichi painted big — sides of buildings, walls of cafeterias, inside homes and outside of offices.
“I came to understand it could be a wonderful way to meet people and that it was really fun,” he said. “I discovered I painted better in a big scale and the idea snowballed into making it a part-time job.”
First came Herman’s Optical on Price Road in Brownsville — a painting of whales and dolphins morphing into a Serengeti Plain, complete with giraffes and elephants. Soon after this was completed he found himself volunteering to help whale artist, Wyland, paint the South Padre Island Convention Center’s Whaling Wall and decided he was on the right tract with his own paintings.
Becoming a teacher, learning to share his knowledge, is another part of the puzzle which makes up Wichi, a nickname from childhood.
“I love this whole facet,” he said. “It makes me dimensional. I’m able to show the students what they can do with their talent outside the classroom.”
Gearing up for his next phase, Wichi has plans to write a coffee table book about his experiences with his artwork.
“Murals for Dummies,” he said, laughingly. “I also want to share what to prepare for in dealing with people and customers in this line of work. It’s not all peaches and cream but it is fulfilling.”
Following some of the new illusion painters has given Wichi the scent of a new challenge, eager to develop his own illusion murals. Simply thinking of how fun it would be to bring that realistic three-dimensional perception on a two-dimensional art piece brings a wide grin to Wichi.
Who knows? It’s a big world to make an impact in and there are a lot of empty walls that need a Touch of Wichi! For more information check out his website at www.wichimurals.com.