LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock Muralist Joey Martinez returned home on Monday after a second trip to Uvalde to put the final touches on a mural honoring one of the students killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting, he told KLBK News on Tuesday.
Martinez met with Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez’ family for the first time over the weekend, after months of conversations over the phone. He learned more about the things Annabell loved most in life.
A fourth grader at the time of her death, Annabell loved Takis, spicy shrimp ramen noodles, TikTok and butterflies. She was a twin and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. Annabell had a crush on Xavier Lopez, who was also killed in the shooting.
“One of the things [Annabell’s mother] told me is that [Annabell] would look at the sky all the time and [say], ‘Oh, I love the colors,'” Martinez said, referring to her love for the color ‘baby blue.’ “She really wanted to make sure that I implemented that color into the design.”
Annabell’s mother asked Martinez if he could incorporate all of those elements into the mural as he makes finishing touches.
Battling extreme temperatures, humidity and rain, Martinez said, “I didn’t hesitate to go out there and make those changes.”
After finishing the mural, “We went to go have dinner together, and [reminisced] about a lot of things that she wanted to tell me.” Martinez said. “It was a great feeling and they were in really good spirits. I really enjoyed spending time with them.”
The mural Martinez painted is part of the ‘Healing Uvalde’ art project, where 21 Texas artists came together to paint murals honoring each of the 19 students and 2 teachers who were killed that day.
“It’s really sad to go through the town, but at the same time, you see the murals and it brings a lot of happiness.” Martinez said. “When I saw all the artwork finally put up on the wall- because I was the first one, and then, the whole building was blank- and to see the whole building covered in paint and vibrant colors, it was so amazing. Such a beautiful view, and again, I’m just so grateful to be a part of that.”
Martinez said he’s looking forward to staying in touch with Annabell’s family and has been in awe by the community’s response to the project.
He also said the Latin Cultural Center is putting together a virtual viewing of all 21 murals, which will soon be featured in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
You can learn more about Martinez’ involvement in the project on his Instagram @Wiseone1978.