Oak Forest residents were abuzz at the beginning of June about the progression of a mural of flowers. Muralist Anat Ronen was commissioned by the new tenant at 3344 E. T.C. Jester Blvd., C & Co Dispensary (not open yet), to paint the wall of giant marigolds that caught everyone’s attention. The 14-foot by 40-foot mural is titled "One Love."
Ronen is no stranger to the street art scene in Houston or this column. You’ve likely seen her murals around town if not her painting live at any of the numerous festivals in Houston.
The excitement is understandable considering murals do not dominate the mostly residential Oak Forest. Ronen is a fast painter and her technique is fascinating to watch unfold, especially as progression is obvious throughout the day.
Ronen told me a couple opening a new CBD store commissioned her to paint the mural on the recently renovated strip center.
“The mural has nothing to do with their shop," Ronen told me. "They wanted to give something back to their community (they reside in the same area) and beautify the building, otherwise pretty bland.”
Art Valet: What was your most challenging mural?
Ronen: “Every wall and every project presents challenges, but some pack a higher level than others. My nemesis was a (70-foot by 28-foot) wall in India. It was challenging because it was large, which required special equipment that was not easy to obtain in that part of the world. Due to it being so far away, I had to adjust quickly to the conditions and make it work. When I travel I am always under an extra layer of pressure because the travel dates are set and I need to finish the job within the timeframe. Projects that are particularly challenging become these anchor thoughts where you compare other projects to. Like for example, if a certain project is difficult (like this mural – the texture was definitely challenging, and the weather was typical humid Houston), you kind of go back to those projects and realize it could be a lot worse. It gives me some kind of calmness and confidence to know that if I was able to tackle a super challenging project, I’d probably be able to deal with others.”
AV: What is the most enjoyable?
Ronen: “When the weather is right I enjoy any type of painting. … It’s funny that when I find myself painting in good conditions – not too hot, not too humid, not too loud, with the right equipment, not under pressure – I realize how relaxing it is for me to paint. But usually there is some kind of difficulty or challenge, and I find myself trying to overcome that hurdle that occupies my mind, and the painting becomes automatic in a way.”
AV: What's the furthest you've traveled to paint?
Ronen: “I’ve been to Australia, India, Macau (China). … It all sounds very exotic and exciting, but for the most part, when you paint on a wall or on the floor it really doesn’t matter where you paint. With COVID, I traveled a lot less, and realized how much I enjoy being home working in Houston, Texas.”
AV: Tell me about your latest endeavor with your husband.
Ronen: “After 12 years of being an artist and fulfilling a dream I never dared to dream, I hope to be able to fulfill my better half’s relatively new dream. I mean, for both of us, the dream was to emigrate (from Israel) to the U.S. and stay here, and we made it happen. The art was a means to an end and became who I am. At home, our roles were changed and while I paint and create, he helps me with everything I need for the art and also takes care of the house, shopping, cooks and bakes. And the baking is amazing. So our dream is to have a little coffee shop/gallery/studio, with him baking and cooking and me creating. For now, we’re taking baby steps with an Etsy shop.”
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.