Artur Bordalo always had a fondness for animals.
He also loves nature and graffiti art.
“It’s super cool,” he said. “When I was young, I started to do graffiti art on the street. Eventually, I began to connect my love of animals, the environment and art, and used public space to do what I do.”
The Portuguese artist – who goes by Bordalo II – has gone from spray painting in the streets of Lisbon to using trash to create stunning 3-D animal sculptures to raise awareness of animals being impacted by pollution and the importance of sustainability.
Bordalo II and two of his assistants installed a 64-foot mountain lion mural using recycled trash on the west wall of the ONE San Jacinto building in Downtown El Paso.
“I look at it as a responsibility,” he said while standing underneath the structure at the corner of North Mesa and Franklin streets. “Don’t care about cars or cool sneakers of anything like that. I just want something better for the world.”
This project is part of a Big Trash Animals series of murals that he’s been installing all over the world using reclaimed materials.
“The idea is not to make something beautiful out of trash that people can stop and take pictures of,” Bordalo II said. “I want people to take a deeper look into the material we are using and the animals that we are creating. I don’t think the way we are living is sustainable.”
There is irony in his work, he said.
“The very material we use, the waste and the trash itself, is contaminating and polluting our environment and destroying nature and the animal’s habitat,” he said.
The process begins with a sketch of what he wants to create, in this case, a mountain lion.
After building a metal skeleton for the sculpture on the wall, he paints the prepared material - dismantled jungle gym sets, slides, tires and pieces from recycle bins and other local discarded plastic waste - in unique and exciting colors in the nearby parking garage.
All pieces of the installation were found in the Paso del Norte region.
Using a large crane, Bordalo II’s partners placed the plastic pieces in the designated areas under his direction as he used a walkie-talkie from across the street to guide them.
This is the first installation by Bordalo II in Texas, and there are fewer than 15 in the United States.
His art redefines the public’s notions of street art.
He hopes to remind people how much waste they emit daily, and even encourage them to reuse or reduce consumption to save the planet.
“I don’t think everybody will understand the message,” Bordalo II said. “If a small percentage does, I’ll be happy with that. If we can change the way people think about the environment, especially the younger generation who are going to be left with what we have done to the Earth, then we are going to be fine.”
Bordalo II, 35, said he belongs to a generation that is extremely consumerist, materialist and greedy.
“With the production of things at its highest, the production of ‘waste’ and unused objects is also at its highest,” he said. “Sometimes people don’t recognize that their simple routines are too much, we are using too many resources too fast and turning them into trash, waste and pollution.”
He uses the world around him to inspire his creations.
“The inspiration is the reality of the present,” he said. “I’m inspired by what I see, by what’s around me. What we do in the present, and how we are living at the moment, will have a lasting impact on our future. If there is something important that is happening in this moment, that really matters, it will be the subject of my work.”
OTHER PLACES TO CHECKOUT
El Paso Museum of Art
1 Arts Festival Plaza
The El Paso Museum of Art was found in 1959. The museum strives to ensure that it provides the Border region with the access to the very best art of international interest. EPMA presents approximately a dozen exhibitions a year, with a wide scope of programming initiatives and Art School offerings. Creating an environment and resource for all audiences is reflected by EPMA’s open doors policy: general admission, school tours, and nearly all of its high-quality educational programming are free. Experience the creativity of our border community and cultures from around the world. EPMA’s calendar of events has something for all audiences and interests.
El Paso Art Association Crossland Gallery
500 W. Paisano
The El Paso Art Association was founded in 1949, making it the oldest art organization in El Paso. The association serves to promote the visual arts in the El Paso region and provides services to its some 400 members by sponsoring several art shows, art classes and art workshops each year.
Galleries at the Memorial
Chamizal National Memorial
800 S. San Marcial
Commemorating the peaceful setting of the Chamizal border dispute between the United States and Mexico, the Chamizal National Memorial is committed to celebrating the history and culture of the region. Three galleries showcasing the work of local painters and sculptors make up the complex: the Los Paisanos, the Abrazos, and the Borderland gallery.
Hal Marcus Gallery
1308 N. Oregon
Hal Marcus Gallery i has a strong focus on local artistry and in addition to displaying a large, distinctively bright and hued collection of paintings by Hal Marcus himself, it also brings together some of the finest contemporary works produced by artists in the area. In the gallery, Botero-esque portraits by Mauricio Mora share the space with the sharp tones of Mark Paulda’s photographs, and with the surreal phantasmagoria of Evelyn Ainsa’s oils.
Ho Baron Sculpture Garden
Artist Ho Baron offers free public viewing of his Sculpture Garden located at his residence. The garden is visible from Piedras at all hours, and daytime visitors can walk into the garden. The garden contains eight of his unique, life-size figurative, surreal sculptures of cast stone and bronze.
Rubin Center for Visual Arts
The Rubin Center is the only dedicated contemporary arts institution in the El Paso / Juárez region. Since its founding in 2005, it has developed a reputation for excellence producing more than 150 original exhibitions and site-specific commissions with a risk-taking roster of international artists, overwhelmingly centering Latinx and Latin American voices.
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