Downtown Gonzales is a hustle-bustle little district. Every storefront has a history or a tale or two. But the most notable tenants of downtown Gonzales are newly immortalized by way of a mural – an artist's interpretation of a larger-than-life Susanna Dickinson and her baby girl Angelina Elizabeth, "The Babe of The Alamo", as they fled the destruction of The Alamo to make an arduous journey back to Gonzales with dreadful news.
The mural was painted, in five days, by Austin artist Mez Data, whose works can be seen across Austin on a cross section of billboards and brick walls as well in some more prominent and affluent locations, such as the Luxurious Hotel Van Zandt, where he has painted murals in the public lobbies of the hotel, on three levels, which include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovette.
The Josephine Peck Building stands on the northwest corner of St. Joseph and St. George streets. The building, owned by Larry and Johnnie Edwards, has been a dry goods and general store, as well as a pharmacy. Now, after a major facelift, storefront will soon be home to a busy nail salon.
Johnnie, a long-time patron of the arts said she finds the mural on her building to be a beautiful representation of Dickinson. The mural of Dickinson is also the first in Gonzales to face a public street.
"I've been working on an Art Walk project to help promote walking traffic and tourism in our Main Street District," Johnnie said. "The idea is to make the spaces between or behind buildings in the public alleyways a place to visit and see 'street' art up close."
Johnnie said she does not like to use the word graffiti, because it often comes with a negative connotation.
"But, in reality, street art is graffiti," Johnnie said. "I wanted people to see street art can be a positive thing and can be beautiful works of art."
Johnnie is a Texan and loves the rich history of this state, which helped her decide on the historical subject matter.
"In working with the artist, we ultimately chose a representation of Susanna Dickinson and her baby because it represents a piece of Texas history, specifically, Gonzales history," Johnnie said.
After the fall of the Alamo and the deaths of many men, including Dickinson's husband Almaron Dickinson, it was recorded that she and her baby Angelina "The Babe of the Alamo" returned to Gonzales carrying a letter of warning, which sparked the counter attack that eventually won Texas independence.
"I imagine the strength Ms. Dickinson must have had to travel from the destruction of the Alamo back to Gonzales to announce the news. I'm sure it was a devastating time," Johnnie said. "But, what she represents to me is incredible courage and love along with the notion that you just have to keep moving forward."
"I intend to add on to this first piece in the future, to clarify perhaps, to people that it is a historical piece," Johnnie said.
"Ideally, I'd like to see other building/business owners in our community to promote the 'art walk' by painting works of art, historical or otherwise, on their buildings," Johnnie said. "We have a brochure for the historical homes for the driving tour; I'd like to have a brochure that directs people to each mural or art piece in town and gives them a little info on the art."
"I think this representation of Ms. Dickinson is beautiful," Johnnie said.
Mez Data, the artist, said he learned a lot about Texas History in his research about Gonzales and Dickinson and feels that the final product can be interpreted by anyone who views it – whether the spectator knows the heroism of Dickinson or not – as maternal and protective.
More of the artist's work can be viewed on mezdata.com. He can be reached for commission inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.