We had the opportunity to interview artist Bordalo II about the mountion lion installation in Downtown while he was creating it. We also did a Q&A with Candace Printz, the brainchild of the Green Hope Project. Since we (DMD) partially funded the art, we’re kind of sweet on this whole thing.
Q. This project accomplishes several things besides Downtown beautification, can you tell us about that?
A. This is meant to raise awareness about several things: the power of art to create positive change, the plight of animals that are in decline (for numerous reasons, but pollution being one of them) and the fact that plastics have a lifespan of centuries, which is of great concern.
The overwhelming amount of plastic that we needed for this mural was all too easy to gather. We use it and toss it, as if it magically disappears once it leaves our trash bins. It, in fact, does not. Unless we come up with environmentally friendly alternatives soon, we, just as other animals being impacted, will suffer the consequences of this pollution.
It was also meant to open up the conversation about other animals, beyond the mountain lion (a species of greatest conservation need), that are rapidly declining in numbers in the El Paso region and the greater state of Texas, such as: the Western burrowing owl, Texas horned lizard, pronghorn, American bumblebee, bald eagle, numerous species of bats, Northern Aplomado falcon, American Peregrine falcon, Harris’ hawk, and many, many more.
Q. How was this project funded and is there more to go?
A. It was funded entirely through Green Hope Project’s fundraising, grant writing, small donations from the community and a handful of businesses, organizations and other nonprofit sponsors.
Because of rain delays, an increase in lumber prices, and longer hours worked by the local crew, we need more funding for the mural. We are about 70% of the way to our goal, so any donations (no matter how small or large) would be greatly appreciated.
All donations can be made at our website: www.greenhopeproject.org. If you find yourself in a position of not being able to donate financially, sharing our story with others goes a long way, as well.
Q. We know there’s a long list and you can’t include everyone, but who would you like to thank for helping to get this project started and across the finish line?
A. I’d like to thank all the volunteers, RLF Commercial Services, Apache Barracade & Sign, the local artist community, business donors, and Bordalo himself and his amazing team. Of course, we’d like to thank you all at the Downtown Management District for the contributions made through your Downtown Mural Grant Program, as well. Every little bit has helped. (All of the contributors are represented in the logos below.)
Q. What are some frequently asked questions you’d like to answer here?
-The mountain lion was chosen by Green Hope Project working closely with local biologists and Texas Parks and Wildlife. A shortlist was compiled of El Paso and Texas animals that were endangered, threatened and species of greatest conservation need. Once that list was complete, it was presented to Bordalo. He then decided on which animal would best fit the wall shape that we had.
-The funding did not come from taxpayer money.
-We donated the scrap lumber to local high school theater departments, so they could use them in their set designs.
-Because Bordalo II decided to leave the entire piece with exposed plastic, we didn’t use very much spray paint for this project, helping to cut down on the number of materials used.
-This is the largest all plastic piece he’s ever done in the world.
-The design was done by Bordalo II. Felix and Joao, Bordalo’s two assistants, helped with the installation. Bordalo himself, did the final touches on the lift.
-This 64-foot project took six days total to complete.
-The idea to have him come here began over five years ago, with my high school art students. We’d been researching environmental artists from all over the world, and they mentioned how amazing it would be if he were to do a mural in El Paso. I told them to simply e-mail him and see what he said. Lucky for us, he said yes! Though we struggled for five years with logistics, funding, finding the right wall and putting the whole project on hold after [the events of 2020], we persisted and were thrilled that he agreed to come to our beautiful city and make it even more creative.
-The artist had the local crew prep the wall before his arrival. They laid down horizontal and vertical 2×4’s with 28-inch metal rods running through the brick and wood. He then cut down all the 3d plastics to lay flat. All plastics were then organized on the ground by color and shape. Bordalo then began cutting, overlapping, and screwing all the flat plastic pieces together. Once he was done with a large section, he would have his assistants go up on the lift and screw each chunk into the wood. He would guide them by sitting on the street, watching, and talking to them through the walkie talkies.
-On the plaque that will be installed later, we will guide people to websites and organizations that help local wildlife and the planet: Texans for Mountain Lions, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Frontera Land Alliance, Stick House Sanctuary, Second Chance Wildlife Rescue, and Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition.
-The majority of materials used were provided by the Environmental Services Department of El Paso. They were items that were already on their way to be recycled, headed to the landfill or were out of commission. All other items were donated by local individuals and were broken or unusable. Most of the items used for the mural were plastics. NO NEW items were used in the construction of this piece, as that would directly go against the message of the artist and the beliefs of Green Hope Project.
Q. Finally, besides donations, is there anything else we should expect in relation to this beautiful art installation?
A. Two plaques will be installed soon, explaining who the artist is, why he does what he does, why we chose the mountain lion, and all about Green Hope Project. We are also working on plans to install lighting, so the piece can be illuminated during the evening. We will have a dedication ceremony, during Chalk the Block, on Oct 8th at the Coffee Box parking lot. We will also be rolling out a recycled art contest, open to all ages. The winners of the contest will have works on display during the dedication ceremony, at an open-air exhibit. To find out about all the events we do, we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media: www.greenhopeproject.org
Just as this project took a great number of people committing to their small parts to complete it, environmental change requires all of us to work together to steer us in the direction of healing.