El Chuco Inspirations: Meet the artist behind behind El Paso’s 3-D balloon murals

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Creating art with purpose. 3-D balloon murals spread around town are getting a lot of attention right now, and the local artist behind it all shares the inspiration behind it, all after El Paso’s worst recent tragedy.

“I’m a daydreamer I guess. I see a blank wall and I want to paint it. I see just any blank wall and I’m like, ‘A mural would be good there,” said local artist Tino Ortega.

Making the world his canvas, Tino is becoming more of a staple in the El Paso art community, and is working to build it even further, “I pretty much grew up in the Lower Valley and I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of artwork. So whenever I was exposed to it, it just became even more meaningful. For me, growing up as an adult, I see how impactful artwork can be in the community so that’s why I choose to do so many murals and do pretty much what I do.”

You have have seen the iconic 3-D balloon murals around town from pictures buzzing on social media. Tino shares the idea stems from paying tribute to the August third mass shooting victims and their families.

“The original idea was to have 23 balloons and I think we’re on our way to that which is nice. So slowly but surely,” Tino shared.

The first mural is the ‘I heart EP’ balloons in the Lincoln Park area. Tino chose to start there after learning someone he knows personally was affected.

“My wife’s Aunt and Uncle unfortunately were part of the 23 victims,” said Gus Delgado, co-Owner/Brewer of Old Sheepdog Brewery.

“Being able to work with Gus at Old Sheepdog Brewery when he was telling me about how his family was personally affected by the August third shooting, to me it just made sense to start here even more so,” Tino shared.

“He felt like knowing us personally that this would be the best way to honor them and start here in between the brewery and the gallery. Especially in this area where we love the arts in this area, and we’re feeding off the Lincoln Park art,” Gus added.

Tino said all of his art has a meaning. Along the way of creating the 3-D balloon murals, his ideas began to represent other issues which are shown in his most recent “Don’t Be Self Conchas” mural outside of Desert Mama shop.

“As I’ve made the balloons, I’ve met a lot of people that were not just impacted by the August third shooting but by other tragedies,” Tino said.

“I lost my sister two years ago to mental health and I wanted something light hearted for the community of El Paso,” said Candace Gallarzo, owner of Desert Mama, “There’s people out there for help and ‘don’t be self conchas.”

The murals not only have a purpose, but bring he community out to have fun with while supporting Tino’s work.

“Having people just incorporate their own imagination into it is really, really beautiful,” Tino said.

As Tino continues to express himself through his art, he sends other aspiring artists this message: “Nobody is going to come looking for you. Even if you do really great work and nobody sees it then to me it’s like what’s the point? So it’s really important that you put yourself out there and just pursue what you want to do.”

So far, six of the twenty-three murals have been created.

You can find the murals around town here:

3900 Rosa Ave.: I Heart EP

Courtesy: Omar Delgado


3750 Gateway Blvd. (Chuco Relic): CHUCO

Courtesy: Annette Garcia

501 Texas Ave.: LBBTQ+ Balloons


4410 N. Mesa: 915

Courtesy: Clarissa Rodarte

800 Montana: Don’t Be Self Conchas

Courtesy: Rocio Soto

Pershing & Piedras: I Heart U


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