Local graffiti artist is making a name for himself

Where on earth is Daniel Anguilu?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

As owner of Houston Tourism Gym, I get the privilege of experiencing the best of Houston. I have literally made it my business to learn as much as I can about this city. When I find that a certain feature of Houston is amazing and noteworthy, I love being able to follow the breadcrumb trail until I have a good story to tell.

In 2016, I finally got the balls to start researching this city. I knew that I would need to spend a lot of time creating my walking routes and learning everything along the way. As I took to the streets, I really enjoyed all of the mural art and street art we have. Especially in neighborhoods that are going through transition, the mural art is priceless. I think it is the first clue as to who we are as Houstonians.

Lately, I've been obsessed with a certain artist. His name is Daniel Anguilu. I have been following his breadcrumbs across this city for two years. One day, I knew I would meet him. I first saw his work in EADO. I was driving on Harrisburg Blvd. when I saw this masterpiece all along the Metro Rail:

I got out of my car to get a better look. I took note of the colors outlined in black. Then I looked closer, I could see chapel spires and eyes. After another look, birds and fish. Another day, I was walking in Third Ward on Fannin St. I happened upon this small apartment complex.

It was truly one of a kind. This complex was covered in mural art. Getting a closer look, I could see the same colors with the black outline. This one has an elephant in it. It was Daniel Anguilu.

Some time later, I was at Silver Street Studios talking to my friend Verny Sanchez, the Venezuelan artist of emotional language. (You can see one of his murals across from 8th Wonder Brewery. It's the one with two guys that have rainbows for heads). He began to tell me about HAM or Harrisburg Art Museum in EADO that is being maintained by his friend, Daniel Anguilu. Another breadcrumb.

The next day, I go to HAM. HAM is a once abandoned, metal warehouse. Now it houses urban art from artists all over the world. I recognize some of Verny's art in the hanger. The front of the building is a row of murals from different artists. Along the back, different artists have collaborated to spell Houston, Texas using their different styles to fill the letters. I go to the furthest point of view behind HAM. Man, that would make a great panoramic for my social media header.

Walking the property, you can tell that it accommodates artists with varying levels of talent. It is never a boring moment. I have been back many times. On a number of occasions, I've happened on rap videos being filmed. Sometimes, it looks like a scene from the Fast and the Furious. Photos being taken of scantily clad girls on sports cars.

I knew that I one day, I would meet him here. One day, like any other Sunday, I was hosting my Mural and Brewery Tour. I had just finished showing the back of the museum. Just as we were turning the corner, I saw a man with long hair "writing on the wall." Finally, it was Daniel Anguilu. I politely introduce myself. He's a man of Mexican-Aztecan decent. I have so many questions for him. He seems ready to talk and full of answers sometimes before I ask them. We set a time to talk the next week.

My conversation with Daniel was very eye-opening. I knew from meeting the other mural artists in Houston that the subject can be very controversial. Some have described receiving persecution for putting their art out there. I have asked Verny about the subject before. He says that Social Media helped decriminalize graffiti art. Knowing that artists had followers that made a pastime of taking pictures in front of their murals meaning more people would flock to their businesses, business owners now welcome spray paint on their walls. Instead of getting harassed by the police, graffiti artists actually get paid to paint. Daniel, then tells me his experience of being an artist in Houston.

I start with a few get to know you questions. Where are you from? When and why did you start painting? Daniel is from Mexico City. He came to Houston at a young age. When he was 17, before he learned English, he fell into a crowd of graffiti artists. Graffiti was a way for him to bond and connect with them without speaking their language.

The million dollar question: What is the graffiti culture and why is it so controversial? According to Daniel, there are three types of artists: Graffiti artists, street artists, and trained artists. All need a space to express themselves through their style and be seen in the public.

Graffiti, along with the rap culture, became popular in the 80's. Rap artists, like Flavor Flav were actually graffiti artists themselves. Like rap, graffiti art was also known as rebellious and most often criminalized whether because of ties with gangs or just not having permission to paint on a wall. Daniel considers himself a "writer" from the first generation, because he was one of the first to write on Houston's walls.

Being a first generation writer, Daniel found that North Houston neighborhoods were more accepting of the art form. He received less persecution there. He started HAM to challenge the question of when is art a crime? If you wrote the same art on a wall here or there, at what point is it defined as a crime?

Daniel has really thrown himself into this issue. At times, he has even hired attorneys and fought legally for this right. He considers HAM a win for the community of 2nd Ward and artists. As Houston continues to be gentrified, Daniel and other writers use it as a voice for 2nd Ward. Daniel is committed to using HAM as an instrument for the community before it is absorbed by EADO.

Hoping to gain some credibility with Daniel, I tell him the long list of sites where I have personally seen his work.

The Flat on Commonwealth. Rudz on Waugh. A convenience store on Richmond. He assures me that there are many more murals than I think. I had come to know and love his style from his Aztecan Heritage. He says that not all of his art looks the same. But that is only in Houston. He reminisces on the many trips around the world where he would sleep on couches just to get his work out there. Places like Morocco, China, Central and South America, and all through Europe.

On Brewery and Mural Tour of Eado that I host every Sunday we pass his amazing work of art along the light rail on Harrisburg, I tell what I know. Every week, I feel embarrassed that I do not know more. I use this opportunity to get more information. How long did it take him to complete? Did he have help? Was it commissioned? It was commissioned by Metro. The rail was not operating then. It took him 2 weeks to complete working 4 to 5 hours a day with student volunteers. However he was the only one painting. The mural is to be read left to right. It tells the Aztecan story of the journey of energy creating life.

I'd like to call Daniel "a writer for the people." Just how he learned writing to bond with peers, Daniel still uses his art to create relationships. The muraled apartment complex on Fannin St. was a place he used to live in. He built a relationship with his landlord. His landlord, in turn, allowed him to "pimp" out his property. On Canal St., a neighborhood convenience store has been adored with his art. In return…snacks and a friend.

So, what's your favorite Daniel Anguilu? When you are on a weekend bike ride or walk past it, please take a picture and post on social media. Then again, you can also join me on Sundays in Eado.

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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