LUBBOCK, Texas– A Lubbock artist returned from Uvalde on Sunday after painting a mural of one of the victims killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting in May, he told KLBK News on Monday.
“It was really sad. You could feel it everywhere you went- even going to grab something to eat. You could you could hear it in people’s voices- how hurt they were about the whole situation,” said Joey Martinez, who agreed to participate in the ‘Healing Uvalde Art Project’ as one of 21 Texas artists invited to paint portrait murals of the victims.
Martinez chose to paint Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, his brother-in-law’s distant cousin.
“I did my research and was trying to find out as much information as I could,” Martinez said.
The mural ended up being 20×20 feet, he explained, and battling triple digit temperatures, Martinez managed to finish the mural in less than two days with the help of his assistant artist, Diego Diaz.
“There’s a lot of traffic in this area. People were honking, stopping and talking to us, offering us water… It was just amazing how everybody just came together,” Martinez explained.
A few days before his trip to Uvalde, Martinez spoke with Annabell’s mother.
“She started telling me the stories about her: how she loved animals and that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She was telling me about a necklace that Xavier Lopez gave her as a gift. She would wear this necklace to all his baseball games,” he shared.
Xavier Lopez ,10, was Annabell’s crush who also killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting. Their families laid the two kids to rest side-by-side.
Hours before the shooting, Annabell and Xavier attended the end-of-year honor roll ceremony.
“Annabell was really passionate about school and she motivated Xavier to be a better student,” Martinez explained.
When asked about the elements of design, Martinez said he wanted to capture the essence of Annabell’s personality. He painted a dog to represent her dream of becoming a veterinarian, a phone with a text message on the screen that says “I love you” with Xavier’s name at the top- showing their love for each other- and an ‘A+’ sign underneath the Uvalde District logo to recognize her honor roll accomplishments.
Martinez also painted 21 hearts to honor each victim of the massacre.
He added that while he worked pro bono, he appreciates the support he’s received from the Lubbock community. Several people reached out to him offering money for his travels to and from Uvalde, as well as paying for his hotel, which he said he would have been happy to pay out-of-pocket.
Martinez said he gave his all to the project and is proud to show Uvalde how much the City of Lubbock cares about, loves and supports its neighbors down south.