By DAVID LOPEZ
The unmistakable image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dubbed the “Notorious RBG” by her younger fans, has a new home in an unlikely side of San Benito.
Notorious Cutz barbershop oversaw the mural’s completion on the side of its store wall painted by Alamo artist Alexander “Alexandro” Gonzalez.
Initially intended for McAllen, some political disagreements with the planned mural wall’s owner led Gonzalez to cancel his project.
That’s when Notorious Cutz owner, Gabriel Leal, reached out to Gonzalez, “at the right moment and at the right time,” he said.
“He called me saying, ‘Hey man, I have a wall for you if you need it, you want to come check it out?’ And it’s what I did,” Gonzales said. “It was coincidental that it was called Notorious Cutz.”
Leal said he had seen much of Gonzalez’s previous work and truly appreciated his talent.
“I wanted to liven things up a bit,” Leal said. “San Benito is really bare; we don’t have anything like that. And whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, Ginsburg paved the way for women in general: for my daughters, for my wife.”
Gonzalez reached national acclaim when he painted a mural in Alamo for Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier who was murdered on April 22 inside a Fort Hood armory by another enlisted soldier. According to Gonzalez, photos of Guillen’s mural went viral across the nation, even reaching Mexico.
Since then, Leal has followed Gonzalez on Instagram, asking him to paint a mural for the past three months.
“I just didn’t have time until now,” said Gonzalez. “And I said, ‘You know, your persistence is what got me to come down and paint this mural. And I’ll do it for free.’”
Gonzalez said he is interested in painting a future mural in Harlingen or Brownsville but is also keeping an eye out to paint more in San Benito.
“I’m looking forward to painting more murals in San Benito. I want to do something for everyone, for the blue line, for the kids, for the community; I don’t want to focus on one thing. I want to do more to inspire more people,” he said.
Gonzalez started making art his freshman year of college.
“I started with art graffiti, I didn’t know a lot about art, but my art teacher Mr. Morena showed me the ropes of how to color and the importance of hues.”
His other murals in the Valley included the fallen Texas DPS Trooper Moises Sanchez and the two McAllen officers Ismael Chavez and Edelmiro Garza.
People interested in more of Gonzalez’s artwork can find it on his Instagram page, popc_ulture.
The RBG project took Gonzalez about 14 hours total.
“I see it on the bright side: she was empowering for women, but it was also the many comments and messages I got on Instagram,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of people asked for a mural of RBG, so I said I’m going to do it for my community, for my Valley.”