Proceedings of the Second Annual Mission Research Conference
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The San Antonio Missions and the Contemporary Art of Jesse Treviño
J. Edward Ortiz, President and Chief Executive Officer
Exchange National Bank
San Antonio, Texas

It is always my pleasure to be able to talk about two things that are very dear to me. That is the mural that is being passed around for you to see, and Jesse Treviño. This is one of Jesse's works that surrounds you. He painted this in 1974, I believe, while he was a student here.

I think this was a gloom period of Jesse's life, not because of the subject matter, but because of the colors he was using. The mural at Exchange Bank is his victory and I would like for you to come by and see it.

We have been asked time and time again why did the bank spend the money, the time, and the effort for the mural because businesses do not generally contribute that much to the arts. This is not necessarily true.

In our case, the building that now houses Exchange National Bank was being renovated in 1980. We were trying to bring something back to this quadrant of town that the people could be proud of, feel comfortable in, and enjoy. Over the tellers' counter there is a vast expanse of space approximately 54 feet in length and 12 feet high.

We wanted something that was going to be truly expressive of San Antonio and we set out to find a local artist. We wanted a San Antonian because so often, for some reason in our city when we want something accomplished, we go outside of the city limits to have it done and we have so many talented people right here in this city. I was determined to have someone from the local area to do our painting. I read an article about Jesse Treviño in the Sunday paper.

While most of you are probably familiar with Jesse's background, I was more taken by the quality of his work. I was impressed about his victory of losing the hand that he painted with when he was in Viet Nam and coming back, taking his Master's in this fine university and beginning to paint again with his left hand. The quality of work that he produces and the particular type of love and interest that he puts in it is what really caught my attention.

I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Treviño and I told Jesse that we wanted to have his view of San Antonio and something that was very representative of San Antonio itself. After talking to him, it was his ballgame. We purchased Belgium linen that was one piece, rather than having it sectionalized like this mural is, so that it could be protected forever. Even if it comes to the point that it has to be dismantled from the frame and rolled up and put away, it can be protected for many, many years to come.

In talking with Jesse, I never saw a rendering, I never asked him what he was going to put on the canvas. I did not do anything but put the canvas up, the scaffolding up, and say, "Go ahead and start your work."

We wanted a gift for the people of San Antonio, but mainly we wanted a gift for the people of the quadrant of the city who deserve the attention that we were trying to give them. It was the wisest investment that our bank has made to date, both in the human element and in the publicity and attention that the bank and the artist himself have received from it.

(click on image for a PDF version)

To me, it was significant that the first thing that he painted on a mass of white was the outline of San Fernando Cathedral and the Missions. Those Missions I believe, to him, are representative of a basis of trust and belief in God and in mankind as something that is everlasting and that same theory is very important to the people of San Antonio.

I commend this organization for their research and knowing the true value and the importance of the Missions as a whole.

It took him 14 months to complete the mural. If any of you are interested in having a copy of the mural, please leave your name and address here. They will be forwarded to us and we will send you one.

This is a print and there are only 250 of them and, for some reason, I have No. 1 and nobody can have it. While I cannot contribute any expertise to the subject matter today, I can tell you that the importance of the Missions in the lives of everyday San Antonians that have taken the time to take pride in this city is overwhelming. I have known them and seen them all of my life.

My daughter, who is with me today, as a small child started taking a look at the Missions from the time she could walk and I think sometimes she got a little bored with me taking her back and forth and back and forth.

One day when she was in the fifth grade, she came in and said, "You know, in history today they were talking about San José Mission and I was the only one in the class that had been there." I thought how pathetic that was, that in such a grand place with so many things available to us we take so little advantage of them.

I commend you again and I wish I had some fantastic piece of information that none of you knew about that I could tell you, but I do not. I have no other remarks.

I might seem a little bit overly proud of the mural and of Mr. Treviño, but I have every right to be. It is a beautiful piece of work. He is a magnificent artist and a fine human being. I invite all of you to the bank any time that you can to see it, and you will find that all those people there are as proud of it as I am.

Does anyone have any questions related to the mural?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Where is the bank?

MR. ORTIZ: The bank is right around the corner at 707 Castroville Road in Las Palmas Shopping Center. We opened in September of 1980.

J. Edward Ortiz President and Chief Executive Officer
Exchange National Bank
Photo courtesy of the Exchange National Bank

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Last Updated: 24-Apr-2011