El Paso Balloon Mural Artist Will Design City of El Paso Aug. 3 Memorial and This Is What He’s Creating
El Paso artist Albert “Tino” Ortega has been chosen by the City of El Paso to create a permanent memorial at Ponder Park in remembrance of the victims of the August 3, 2019 El Paso Walmart mass shooting.
The selection of Ortega, who’s best known work are the series of life-like Mylar balloon murals scattered across the city, is fitting since he began creating the El Paso-inspired 3D balloon murals to honor the 23 lives lost that day and to celebrate how our community came together after that moment of darkness.
Ponder Park Memorial
The monument will be built at the park behind the Cielo Vista Walmart where the mass killing took place.
When the items from the makeshift memorial behind the Walmart were removed, many of them were transported to nearby Ponder Park where a smaller, temporary memorial was set up.
The items that decorated the fence at Ponder Park have since been relocated to the August 3 memorial exhibit at the El Paso Museum of History, and Ortega’s commissioned memorial will take their place.
Creating a Crown
Ortega told The Prospector in a published report that the piece he’s creating will resemble a crown.
“Crowns are synonymous to people with power or nobility. The shooter took away 23 people’s power on that day. This memorial is restoring that power in remembering them.”
He added that he visited the memorials that have already been created, the “grand candela” that stands in the Cielo Vista Walmart parking lot and the El Paso County Healing Garden at Ascarate Park, for inspiration.
“I tried to take pieces design-wise from them, so then they are all bridged to one another,” he explained to the UTEP newspaper.
He said the monument will include 23 trees and 23 lights. The city expects it will be completed in 2023.