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‘De La Puente’ Perseveres Through it All

Guelmi Espinal, Program Officer

Mass Cultural Council’s Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program supports and nurtures cultural life in every city and town across the Commonwealth by bringing to the forefront public programs that engage, educate, and entertain communities. Last year, 329 LCCs awarded more than 7,500 grants to their communities. The following is the story of one such grant recipient.

photo of artist Kevin Angulo standing in a cherry picker basket painting his mural
Kevin Angulo

The Artist

Meet Kevin Angulo! He’s a creative – a cross disciplinary artist – who has recently completed a 5,000 square foot mural in Haverhill, MA. The mural was initially supported by the Haverhill Cultural Council, which allowed him to leverage that into working with additional local entities. We had the pleasure of talking to Kevin about his mural, De La Puente, and about what led him to creating this public art in the first place.

What’s immediately clear when talking to Kevin is his passion for whatever project he’s working on. Through his experience as a sneaker designer, Kevin has learned there’s always a story to a product – especially projects where a lot of people are involved in every step. Moving beyond the shoe industry, Kevin has applied that thinking to his work today.

The Work

De La Puente draws from a lot of places that are intentionally intimate for Kevin. In his words, “art is original when it’s personal, because it leaves no room for imitation.” He is cognizant of the fact that as an artist it’s difficult to tell which of his pieces will stand out over time. But while each piece speaks to someone, even if that’s just himself, it has worth in being created. For De La Puente, the keystone is perseverance.

photo of part of a mural in-progress. Different shades of the same blue paint are used to create a boy's profile
Work in progress detail of De La Puente.

The inception of his mural began with a trip to Honduras in 2018. His previous trip, 12 years prior, ended early due to his family being victims of a robbery. Because of that, the 2018 trip was about reconnecting with his country, his family, and healing through documentation of his experience there. Watching Hondurans live with so much joy in their lives gave Kevin a different perspective of their lives from the one he’d had in mind before this trip. Returning home, this time to America, Kevin had begun thinking about how his experience in Honduras related to his life in Haverhill.

The Process

Taking the image of an elderly woman walking with a cluster of plantains, Kevin utilized this rendering to successfully advocate for a grant from the Haverhill Cultural Council for a public mural project. However, finding a venue proved difficult. After being denied by eight private property owners, he pivoted towards asking the city for some assistance. From here, the project picked up steam as soon as he met Erin Padilla of Creative Haverhill. After refocusing the project towards its subject today – a young boy (who he says intentionally looks strikingly like his nephew) – he received a letter of authorization to place the 5,000 square foot mural onto the Haverhill Intermodal Parking Facility.

photo of a mural detail. Different shades of the same blue paint are used to create the upper portion of a boy riding a bicycle.
Detail of De La Puente.

De La Puente perseveres through it all – denials from property owners, requested changes of the subject matter, grant writing, and more. It also signifies the healing that comes from public art. During his kickoff event, Kevin opened up about what it meant to create art next to an apartment complex. People would look at Kevin working all hours of the day. Eating dinner, commuting to or from work, just passing by. They took (and offered) photos, talked to him, and even made sure he ate, too. The community surrounds this art, and it supported Kevin while he was beautifying their city.

Can you describe the project that you submitted for funding to the Haverhill Cultural Council?
I submitted a proposal for a public art project centered around a mural with a focus on perseverance. This project was aimed at benefiting the community through the aspect of beautifying the community and being accessible to all.

In addition to Haverhill Cultural Council, who else in the community provided support?
Additional support was provided by Erin Padilla, director of Creative Haverhill. She advocated for me heavily. She agreed to become the fiscal sponsor and found an additional grant for me. Sherwin Williams very generously donated the paint. I also received support from Haverhill Bank and Merrimack Valley Transit (MeVa).

aerial view of the completed 5,000 square foot mural
De La Puente, a mural by Kevin Angulo.

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