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Houston Urban Experience launches third annual mural festival Photo by George Rose/Getty Images
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 28: A new light rail corridor in downtown is viewed on February 28, 2016 in Houston, TX. Despite the plunge in oil prices, Houston, the corporate energy capital of the U.S., is adding millions of square feet to its convention center and constructing dozens of new highrise office buildings and condominiums. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

The Houston Urban Experience, a collective of Houston artists, will host their third annual Mural Festival in mid-October. Last year, more than 100 artists submitted sketches to participate in the festival. The massive art show will turn walls into canvases and more than 17 miles of Houston streets, from Montrose to the Second Ward, into the city’s biggest art gallery.

The festival is the brainchild of graffiti artist Mario Figueroa, Jr., more commonly known by his graffiti tag “GONZO247.” The festival started in 2015 as a way for local street artists to express themselves. The next year, Figueroa added an international lineup of artists who brought their own unique styles to what has become the most diverse city in America.

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Figueroa spoke on how murals and graffiti, once associated with criminals and vandals, can have a beneficial effect on a city like Houston.

“There’s this property. It’s already an eyesore. Why can’t we just go out and make it beautiful? Instead of driving by this dark, desolate place, you’re driving by this color.”

Figueroa also emphasized the importance of bringing in international artists to show off their visions to the Houston audience.

“We have some international returners,” he said. “Part of the festival is to bring in new international talent, people who haven’t been in Houston before, then we can start rotating.”

Figueroa says a part of the group’s mission is to bring street art to parts of Houston that have been under-served. Last year’s festival saw many works displayed in EaDo and the East End.

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The festival runs from October 14 to October 21. Admission is free, and guided tours are available that offer to explain the meaning and history behind each piece. For information on the guided tours and kickoff party, visit the HUE Mural Festival Facebook page.

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