There were bubbles, books and barbecue as Aldine artist Martin Barrera put the finishing touches on a bright blue and green mural for the High Meadows Library at the recent second annual Aldine Mural Fest sponsored by the East Aldine Management District.

His creation was a bright sign of the District’s expanding work to bring public art to its service area — for the purpose of making the District more attractive, strengthening the neighborhood’s identity and inspiring more artists to help decorate the places where they grew up or moved to recently.

Barrera’s mural, which emphasizes the brilliance of books, will draw attention to the library next door to his alma mater, MacArthur High School.

A native of East Aldine, Barrera is a professional artist and International muralist who was selected by the East Aldine Arts Council to design and complete the panoramic painting. He is also a teacher of fine arts at Davis High School in Aldine ISD.

The young artist recalls that a teacher inspired him to pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

At Aldine’s Worsham Elementary School, “the teacher who motivated me was Mrs. Post. I will remember her name for the rest of my life. When I was starting out, I didn’t think my drawings were that good. But she would always compliment me and say, ‘You’re getting really good.’ ”

Silva, Barrera

“She would put my drawings up on on the board, and that really motivated me. She told me to keep trying, so I started taking my art seriously.”

Barrera said he continued to study art at MacArthur High School, then at Lone Star College and later, at the University of Houston. The lesson he learned from that teacher in elementary school is one he passes on to his own students at Davis High School.

And, Barrera said, he’s proud that his new mural might inspire other children to learn to love books. A long-time patron of the High Meadows Library, he said he frequently takes his two young nephews there to check out books.

District Vice Chairman Carlos Silva, who also chairs the Arts Council, noted that the mural’s location on Aldine Mail Route Rd. will add a bright spot of beauty to the busy thoroughfare. 

The District has also sponsored mini-murals on utility boxes across the district. And a new program will allow business owners in the District to apply for grants to make outdoor improvements such as re-painting exteriors and re-striping parking lots.

As Barrera put the finishing touches on the mural, other art and book lovers circulated in the library parking lot. The Curiosity Cruiser, a local bookmobile, was on hand to give away children’s books. The crew of the Cruiser also brought plenty of sidewalk chalk and outdoor games to lure youngsters to their booth.

Other community sponsors included the East Aldine Arts Council, BakerRipley, the Harris County Public Library, Lone Star College, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia and the always popular Art Bus. Art Bus creator Roni Cabrera set up tables for kids to work on small paintings. She also brought along a bubble-making machine that added a festive atmosphere.

Festival goers also enjoyed plates of Mexican-style barbecue, offered by the Mi Taqueria food truck.

The Mural Fest drew visitors into the library, which has scheduled a full summer of reading programs for kids, teens and older patrons.

The children’s summer reading program, Oceans of Possibilities, starts Friday, June 3, and runs through Thursday, August 4. Special events will include A Storybook Opera, Armadillo’s Dream, at 11 a.m. on June 21. Kids of all ages can visit the library at 11 a.m. July 12 for an appearance by none other than Houston Astros mascot Orbit.

The teen program Thursday afternoon includes presentations of Otaku Outpost, teen anime classes and book discussions and crafts classes.

The extensive adult programs offered this summer range from basic computer classes to online practice tests for U.S. citizenship exams.

To sign up for summer reading programs, visit Or visit the library online at @highmeadowslibrary.

— by Anne Marie Kilday