This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media.
His legal name is Mario Figueroa, Jr. But many folks know the graffiti artist better as GONZO247. From the outside, his studio just south of downtown Houston blends into the rest of the old strip center. On one side, there’s a bail bonds office. On the other end, a Cajun restaurant.
But inside, it’s a reverie of color. The concrete floor is splattered with dried spray paint. In the corner stand shelves of hundreds of used spray cans. On the walls hang canvases of graffiti in colors ranging from bright fuchsia and tangerine orange, to sky blue.
Right now, it’s also the temporary location of the newly-announced Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas. It’s the first of its kind in Houston, but Figueroa says the original museums are everywhere.
“The streets in general have already acted as a natural museum to this art form,” Figueroa says. “But we just thought it would be cool to actually create a physical space to showcase the history of this art form.”
Now that they’ve created the advisory board, the next step is shopping for a permanent location. A large warehouse would be ideal.
“Something that we can grow into, but that has plenty of wall space for us to show artwork because obviously graffiti can be pretty large,” Figueroa says.
He adds that he wants the museum to have a little bit of everything: Video installations, permanent exhibits, and also traveling shows featuring national and international graffiti and street artists.
But there’s an even bigger picture for the museum.
“A lot of people still think that this is just straight vandalism,” Figueroa says. “A lot of people still think this is still gang-related … and that’s another good reason to have a museum. I think the best way to be able to share what this is all about is through education.”
The Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas is set to have a permanent space by this January.