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It’s no secret that most of the San Antonio population is deeply devoted to the Spurs.
Pride for the beloved NBA team is visible all over the city in the form of car flags, t-shirts, billboards, hats, and other items, but the newest form of public Spurs admiration is in the an impressive, 16×16 ft. mural in Travis Park.
The interactive, silver and black mural – standing on the North end of the park – was officially unveiled on Thursday afternoon with a small ceremony complete with an appearance by Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), the Spurs Silver Dancers and the local artists of the project, Nik Soupé and Shek Vega.
“It’s one of those murals where you can pose in front of it,” Soupé told The Rivard Report before the ceremony. “There’s a hoop on one side, and of course a “Go Spurs Go” on the bottom, and in the center we have a floating ball so if you stand on one side it looks like you’re shooting the ball.”
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At the helm of the Spurs’ advancement into the second round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs – due to start on Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder – the work of art is sure to stop Travis Park passersby in their steps to snap a photo, and show their Spurs pride.
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Soupé and Vega’s piece in the park is the second in a series of murals that will be going up around the city in celebration of the Spurs’ playoffs run, all in line with the theme: “Paint the Town Silver & Black.” The first of the series, an acrylic and spray painted piece titled “Go Spurs Go,” was permanently installed in the AT&T Center earlier this month and features the likenesses of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kawhi Leonard in each letter of “Spurs.”
Soupé is unsure how long the Travis Park mural will remain in the area, but there have been talks about possibly relocating it to the AT&T Center after a few months, he said.
The interactive approach to the Travis Park installation is one that the Center City Development Office and Spurs Sports & Entertainment, who commissioned Soupé and Vega’s services, plan to stick with in future public art pieces honoring the Spurs throughout the playoffs.
“You can paint a mural that’s really beautiful, but we wanted to be able to share it so our fans can experience it by being part of the art,” said Mike Malo, Spurs Sports & Entertainment vice president of brand and marketing. Instagram-worthy public art installations like the “I love my Spurs” mural on the wall of Richter Goods at 2202 Broadway St. and the “I love tacos so much” on the wall of a Mother’s Window Tint at the corner of Grayson and Elmira Streets, beckon visitors to take selfies in front of them to share on social media, and are growing increasingly popular in the city.
That interactive art trend coupled with the “vibrant street art culture in San Antonio” served as inspiration behind the series of Spurs-centered works to the city streets, Malo said. And Soupé and Vega – whose work is well-known, bold, and edgy – are perfect for the job.
“Street art is the new black, it’s more accepted these days,” Soupé said. Both he and Vega – who owns Gravelmouth Gallery in the South Flores Arts District – are part of the mural group Los Otros, and have displayed their talents with graffiti and acrylics on San Antonio walls and gallery spaces together for around 16 years, he said.
But beyond being skilled artists, Soupé and Vega, like everyone else, just love the Spurs.
“It’s been a fun project to work on. We were in the works of doing a couple Spurs projects just as fans, so we’re just fortunate that (the City and the Spurs) have allowed us to piggy back on that and bring some urban culture to (their idea),” Soupé said, adding that some of Vega’s Spurs designs are currently being used in promotional and decorative material in the AT&T Center.
Malo is unsure how many more Spurs murals will be installed in the future, but there are plans in the works for adding an interactive piece on the corner of Houston and Navarro Streets in the coming weeks, he said. The potential for future, similar installations depends on the public’s reaction.
But Soupé has faith in the city’s dedication to the five-time NBA Championship winning team.
“I’ve been to a lot of cities, but the Spurs have such a huge fan base,” Soupé said, noting the large amount of small-scale “Go Spurs Go” graffiti that can be found all around the center city.
“(Spurs pride) is a household thing here. It’s something that just amazes me.”
Top image: The unveiling of a mural painting the town silver and black in honor of the San Antonio Spurs by Shek Vega and Nic Soupé (1/4). Photo by Scott Ball.