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Follow the Art

Muralist Juan Velazquez makes his mark on Fort Worth.

"I wasn't even sure I could paint a full-sized mural," says Juan Velazquez, prolific Fort Worth muralist and oil painter. "I had $200 in my bank account, so I gave myself a week to either make it in the art world or take another office job." 

He wouldn't need a week. Velazquez nailed it. His first earnest foray into murals was a spray-painted memorial, blended like an oil painting in his signature style, to 20-year-old, Texas-born, United States Army soldier Vanessa Guillen. "I was in the military, so for me, she was my sister," says Velazquez about his first renowned piece.

A local with a military background donated the wall to Velazquez, and the artist seized the opportunity without knowing if he'd sink or swim. This ability to 'get it done' has become the hallmark of Velazquez's work. "I was discouraged in art class," he says. "I had one teacher who stood up for me. They tried to say that my style was old, and nobody would like it. Well, I live off of my work now."

And he does, for only being active a few years, Velazques has painted nearly 150 murals around Fort Worth (he's also known to surprise his fans on the road, knocking on doors to ask if he can paint something for them). 

Today, his work is an artistic road map of the city, one vibrant destination to the next. How many can you find?