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In Living Color

Artist GONZO247 has gone from outlaw to in-demand commissioned street artist, leaving his mark all over Houston.

Article by Gabi De la Rosa

Photography by Photography courtesy of Mario Figueroa Jr.

Originally published in Memorial Lifestyle

Mario E. Figueroa Jr. has been creating street art in Houston for over 30 years, a journey that has been both inspiring and challenging for the artist. Better known as GONZO247, Figueroa has gone from outlaw to commissioned street artist, leaving his mark all over Houston. His vivid and dynamic murals can be found on various structures, from buildings to vehicles, and have been commissioned by prestigious organizations such as the Houston Zoo, Rodeo Houston, University of Houston, and Rice University.

Houston's art scene has grown to embrace graffiti and street art, and Figueroa has been a driving force behind this change. He remains loyal to Houston as his home base of creativity and hopes to ignite a spark in young people to pursue their dreams of becoming an artist through his murals.

For Figueroa, creating art is not just a passion but a necessity. "For an artist, the need to create and keep creating is vital, like water and oxygen. I get inspired by other creatives. My interactions with others, different cultures, and travel journeys inspire my creative work," he says.

Figueroa has collaborated with top brands, national and local organizations, and artists at all levels throughout his career, each experience being unique and memorable. However, a full circle collaboration moment for him was having the opportunity to work with Leo Tanguma on the repainting and a couple of hidden re-designs of his masterpiece mural, "The Rebirth of Our Nationality" (1973). This mural inspired him to be an artist while growing up in the East End of Houston, so working with Tanguma was a highlight in his career.

2023 is an exciting year for the artist, as it marks the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop's existence. He has teamed up with Rooftop Cinema Club to screen the movie Juice on June 17th at 8 PM, featuring a Hip Hop Celebration with music, movies, and a graffiti art workshop. Figueroa has also been working on his new studio space, allowing him to further educate people about the graffiti artform and create new work in all sizes. "We plan to honor the past and share our historical content through exhibitions at our new studio as we work on a museum component."

Figueroa's journey as an artist is a testament to the power of persistence and the importance of following one's dreams. His work has left a lasting impact on Houston's art scene and inspired others to pursue their creative passions. His dedication to the craft is unwavering, and he plans to continue leaving his mark on the city he calls home.

See the murals for yourself: 

1 "Rhinestone Rodeo" 800 Preston, Houston, TX 77002

2 "Houston is Inspired" 315 Travis, Houston, TX 77002

3 "Houston Blue" 2011 Leeland, Houston, TX 77003

4 "1520 Saint Emanuel, Houston, TX 77003

  • Art inspired by the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop.
  • Artist Mario Figueroa Jr. artistically known as GONZO247