Mario E. Figueroa (aka: Gonzo247)
Nominating Organization: Fresh Arts/Arts District Houston
Occupation: Graffiti Artist
Born and raised in Houston, Mario E. Figueroa, known as GONZO247, uses the medium of spray paint to celebrate and honor the unique, diverse, and beautiful history of Houston. A self-taught multidisciplinary artist with over 25 years of experience in studio art practice, mural painting, private art commissions, and community involvement, GONZO247 founded Aerosol Warfare Studios, the Houston Urban Experience (HUE) Mural Festival; a biennial art festival that invites artists from around the world to create mural installations across Houston’s inner city, and The Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas. Committed to creating community-centered art, GONZO has emblazoned public spaces across the city with images of Houston’s history, culture, and people that are infused with inclusion, positivity, hope, and love.
As an internationally recognized visual and cultural arts ambassador, he hosts tours in Houston’s diverse communities, works to inspire the next generation of artists, and ensures his hometown of Houston is an art destination. GONZO advocates for the Houston community. After Hurricane Harvey, he designed t-shirts with a graffiti-style Houston logo and donated all profits to Mayor Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. His November 2019 mural at Houston Methodist’s Horizon Hope Garden serves as a backdrop to a tranquil garden for outpatients. Other recent work includes the “Creative Flow” Mural for Arts District Houston during HUE Mural Festival where, “The colors match the vibrancy and diversity of the District’s residents, workers, and visitors.”
He was awarded the Houston Press Best Art Curator in a Non-Museum Setting Recognition (2010); Two of his works are in the City of Houston Art Collection at The Houston Permitting Building (2011); He was mentioned in The History of American Graffiti, (2011); He was interviewed for the Center for Arts Leadership at the University of Houston, (2013); His oral history was recorded for The Houston Metropolitan Research Center; His work is in the Texas art collection of The Senate of The State of Texas on display at the capitol office of Senator Rodney Ellis (2015); He received Congressional Recognition from Member of Congress, Sheila Jackson Lee for “Arts in Community” in honor of Hispanic heritage month (2018); He received the Houston Metro Hispanic Heritage Month award for “Cultural and Historic Trailblazers” (2018); He was awarded a City of Houston Proclamation on September 27, for his artistic efforts and education in Houston (2016); he also received a City of Houston Proclamation on September 18, as part of the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award for “Art in Community” (2018); He was co-awarded, with Harris County, Preservation Houston’s Good Brick Martha Peterson Award for his efforts on re-painting and preserving the Rebirth of Our Nationality mural (1972-1973) in East End Houston (2019).