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San Diego and Tijuana artists honor Mexican icon Vicente Fernández with murals

A mural of Vicente Fernández in San Diego.
(Alexandra Mendoza / San Diego Union-Tribune)

They pay tribute to the significance of the singer on Mexican culture.

Artists on both sides of the border recently paid tribute to Vicente Fernández by painting murals that commemorate the legacy of the late Mexican singer.

In San Diego, the couple behind Ground Floor Murals painted a portrait of “Chente” on the wall of a creators collective in the Sherman Heights neighborhood, while south of the border, Tijuana artist Gerardo “Mode” Orozco chose the exterior of a home.

Fernández was one of the most important figures in Mexican culture, whose music crossed borders and evokes countless memories. He died Dec. 12 at age 81 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was known as the king of ranchera music.

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“When I think Vicente Fernández, I automatically think of my grandma and being around the carne asada with my whole family. Like I can almost smell it when I hear Vicente’s songs,” said Paul Jiménez, who formed Ground Floor Murals along with fellow artist Signe Ditona.

Vicente Fernández, a beloved Mexican singer who was awarded three Grammys and nine Latin Grammys and inspired a new generation of performers, including his son Alejandro Fernández, has died

The couple had wanted to paint a mural of Fernández for more than a year, and upon hearing the news of his death, they grabbed their spray bottles and got to work.

Since plans for a mural were already in place for the recently inaugurated creators collective Imperial Ave Co-Lab in Sherman Heights, they opted for a 12-foot-tall portrait of a younger Fernández.

“It’s a memorial piece. It’s meant to honor him,” said Ditona, who added that it took four hours to complete the mural.

Jiménez said he has a strong connection to Fernandez’s music, which is why he always knew he would paint him one day.

“For me, growing up, honestly it felt like a member of my family. He felt like my second grandpa, because my grandma has such a big crush on him. So growing up, he was just huge for me,” he said.

Also, the couple recalled all the parties with friends where they couldn’t help but sing at the top of their lungs songs like “Volver, Volver.”

Milo Lorenzana, co-owner of Imperial Ave Co-Lab, said he anticipated the mural would be on display for a long time.

“It would be hard to cover something like this up,” he said. “So come and take your pictures, grab a cup of coffee or hang out. We don’t see this coming down anytime soon.”

Ground Floor Murals is the company behind a series of San Diego Padres murals that have been painted at locations across San Diego County. It also painted images of boxers Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao at House of Boxing gym.

Tijuana artist paints a mural of Vicente Fernandez
Tijuana artist Gerardo “Mode” Orozco paints a mural of Vicente Fernández.
(Alejandro Tamayo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

South of the border, Orozco, the Tijuana artist, worked against the clock recently to finish a mural honoring “Chente” before rain hit the region.

Orozco knew he wanted to pay tribute to Fernández through his art as soon as he heard about his death. It took him nine hours to complete.

The spray-paint mural showing Fernández’s photo from his album “Para Siempre” was painted on the wall of a house in the Colonia Buena Vista neighborhood and can be seen from the Vía Rápida freeway.

While he was working on the mural, fans expressed support by honking their car horns or shouting “Viva Chente!” Orozco said. “This is a mural for the community and for every Mexican who identified with his songs,” he said.

Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero praised Orozco’s work. “I admire your work so much, Mode! What a pleasure to have you representing icons of our culture like this,” she wrote on Orozco’s Facebook page.

Tijuana artist Gerardo "Mode" Orozco with his mural.
(Alejandro Tamayo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Orozco dedicated the mural to his grandmother and aunts, who grew up with Fernández’s music, and to everyone who loved the Mexican idol.


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