About the Work
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas as a first-generation American, Federico Archuleta’s work is distinctly defined by his early experiences of regularly traveling between Texas and Mexico. His Let’s Band Together mural, found on the wall at Whisler’s cocktail bar on East Sixth Street at Chicon, is a prime example of how Archuleta combines the pop culture iconography of both countries to create a uniquely Austin statement.
Drawing on his Catholic upbringing, he explained that the inspiration for the Let’s Band Together mural came from a desire to create a version of the Sacred Heart that includes musical instruments and touches on the current political climate. Thus, the words “Let’s Band Together” seem to have a dual meaning, fusing Austin’s musical history with a relevant and timely message for everyone who visits the mural.
Getting his start by accident, Archuleta initially worked as a commercial artist for more than 10 years before even picking up a spray can. But in 2003, while working at the now-closed Austin location of Tower Records, he decided to stencil the store’s exterior columns with portraits of iconic musicians and immediately fell in love with creating street art. Visitors can still get a glimpse of his portraits of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and others on “the Drag” at the intersection of 24th and Guadalupe Streets.
Today, after nearly 20 years working as an independent stencil muralist, Archuleta is considered one of the originators of Austin’s street art scene and, certainly, one of the most recognizable artists in the city. Recently, he shared the story of one of his most famous pieces with us; the Let’s Band Together mural.
“When I first moved to the east side of Austin back in 2005, it was considered “undesirable” to live in. Before gentrification, Latinos and African Americans were the primary residents. Now it’s one of the “hottest” parts of town to Iive in, and rising rents and property taxes have forced many long time residents to move. This is the reason why it has become my favorite part of town to put my murals in.”
Although Archuleta has never been a part of a collective or crew, he tells us that he’s collaborated with many other artists over the years.
“There are so many talented muralists in town that I can’t recommend one over the other, for fear of offending someone that I didn’t mention. But, I will say this: Austin has one of the most active groups of female muralists in the world!”
When we asked Archuleta to share some of the most inspiring places around town, he told us “All I need is a good bookstore, a good vinyl record store, a good coffee shop, and a good bike trail, of which Austin has more than enough of!”
Few artists have had the experience of witnessing the evolution of Austin’s street art scene, much less of influencing it the way Archuleta has. “Austin’s street art scene has grown to where it has become an additional focal point for tourists to visit, right up there with the music and foodie scene!” And it all started in the Central and East areas of the city, where you’ll find many of Federico Archuleta’s murals.
For more, find him on Instagram at @el_federico and be sure to visit Let’s Band Together at 1816 East Sixth Street.
About The Artist
Federico Archuleta, Graffiti Western, is an independent graffiti stencil artist who has been working in Austin, Texas for more than 20 years. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas as a first-generation American, Archuleta’s work is distinctly defined by his early experiences of regularly traveling between Texas and Mexico. His work combines the pop culture iconography of both the United States and Mexico, to create a unique style. Notable Austin works include ‘Til Death Do Us Part (Goodwill North Lamar), Bob Dylan (Hole in the Wall), Virgen de Guadalupe (Tesoros Trading Company), Music Legends (Guadalupe & 24th Streets), Let’s Band Together (Whisler’s) and many more.
Where do you go to get inspired in Austin?
“All I need is 1) a good bookstore, 2) a good vinyl record store, 3) a good coffee shop, and 4) a good bike trail, of which Austin has more than enough of!”