Cotulla mural posed challenges for art teacher Rocha

The Magnet Tribune: Mark Webber
This is a close up of Cotulla founder Joseph Cotulla.

Aryanna Rodriguez, Staff writer

This story is also published on Best of SNO.

Gilberto Rocha was very excited when he was hired by the manager of Cotulla Main Street organization to create the mural. He was not only excited when he was hired to create the mural but also during the year in which he was painting it.

“I felt excited because it was something that I had looked forward to making for years,” Rocha said.

Rocha began painting the mural last school year and finished it in September. He found it challenging to fulfill his responsibilities for school and the project, but it is something that Rocha was determined to finish.

“This mural is something I really wanted to do not only for myself but for my students and for the city of Cotulla because it is a huge project that deals with its history,” Rocha said.

A grand opening celebration to commemorate the mural took place in Cotulla, about 70 miles north of Laredo on Interstate Highway 35, on Oct. 12 at Veterans Park. The mural is located at 116 Center St., in front of the park.

There were many challenges that Rocha faced when he was in the process of painting the mural, but he was able to overcome them with his determination.

“I would go back and think to myself that this is what I wanted years ago, and now that it is here I have to face the challenge,” Rocha said.

One of the challenges he faced was having to paint the mural in his studio in Laredo. It was hard for him to create it in his studio because the mural is about half a city block long. The mural is formed of 42 panels, and each of them is 4-by-8-feet so in total, it is 14-feet high and 96-feet wide.

“I never expected painting clouds to be so difficult. Clouds are just slapping on paint but when you’re doing them at a scale where you have to be stepping away to see how they look it becomes very challenging,” Rocha said.

Painting this mural not only took a lot of time but a lot of money as well. About $20,000 was spent on paint. Paint is something that Rocha bought a lot of.

“It was the first time I had ordered paint by the gallon,” he said.

According to an earlier Magnet Tribune story, the mural will cost the city of Cotulla about $60,000.

The images that Rocha painted on the mural were given to him by the mural committee of the city of Cotulla.

“They all have to do with the history of Cotulla starting with the founder Joseph Cotulla,” Rocha said.

This mural is something I really wanted to do not only for myself but for my students and for the city of Cotulla because it is a huge project that deals with its history.”

— Gilberto Rocha

During the year in which he was doing the mural, it was a little harder for him because he had school work he had to do aside from the mural which was a challenge for him.

Though Rocha was very excited about creating the mural, he said he relaxed once the mural was completely finished.

“I felt relieved. It became like a full-time thing because even though I was at school teaching I would think about what I needed to do next when I wasn’t teaching,” he said.

Rocha said he is really grateful to everyone who encouraged him during the time when he was creating the mural and to the city of Cotulla for giving him the opportunity. He said he is especially grateful for his parents that believed in him and were there to support him.

Rocha said he learned a lot from painting the mural. The opportunity he was given not only impacted his life but helped his career in many ways, he said.

“Now I look forward to really planning things and writing them down,” Rocha said. “I think the main thing is that I became more disciplined and structured.”