Local muralist’s culture inspires his artwork

Hispanic Heritage Month

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Arturo Morales Romero loves art and challenging himself when he creates a new piece. 

“I try to do something bigger and bigger and bigger,” Morales Romero said. 

His largest piece is his ArtPrize entry called Aztlan, which is located outside MeXo Tequila & Mezcal Bar and Restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids. 

“Aztlan — that means people from the town of dreams,” the artist said. 

The colorful mural is 15 feet by 92 feet. 

“This is a timeline that represents the cultures from Central America, Mayans, Aztecs up to present day,” Morales Romero said.

It took the Guerrero, Mexico native 265 hours to finish the job. He showed up day after day for weeks to complete the mural. 

Morales Romero has lived in West Michigan for seven years but only started gaining attention from his artwork a couple of years ago when he painted canvas pieces inside MeXo. 

He has been a muralist since his teenage years in California. 

“That’s what we did in summer whenever I wasn’t working in fields,” Morales Romero said. 

He got a chance to show his skills in Grand Rapids earlier this year when he painted a mural of Molly Ortiz Blakely at San Chez. Ortiz Blakely is a historical figure in Grand Rapids’ Hispanic community. 

Arturo has come a long way from his humble roots in Mexico, where he found his passion for art as a 5-year-old. 

“While I was playing in the water, we had pebbles that were soft and when I stepped on them, the colors mixed,” Morales Romero said. “That’s when I had a curiosity for the mixture of paint. That’s when I started painting.”

Arturo is currently working on his next piece: A mural at a local supermarket depicting cultural aspects of Mexico’s 32 states. 

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