The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) unveiled “Reflejos on the Rio Grande” by Roberto González as the official 126th Celebration’s Commemorative Poster for the upcoming 2024 festivities. The unveiling was held at The Laredo Mansion, located at 1714 Houston St., on Friday, September 8, 2023.
“As President of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, I have the distinct honor of selecting the artist to create the original painting to represent the 126th Washington’s Birthday Celebration; and, after careful consideration, I just knew I had found the right person in someone that is very near and dear to me, “said WBCA President Rochelle Gonzalez. “What he did with a single piece of artwork is truly incredible and I hope you all absolutely love it as much as I do,”
The WBCA Poster Unveiling has become one of the most colorful events leading up to the start of the Celebration. Since 1982, WBCA Presidents have selected local and regional artists to create original pieces to be used as the official commemorative poster.
“I am deeply honored and privileged to have been chosen as the poster artist for the 126th Celebration. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Rochelle Valdez Gonzalez and the entire WBCA team for giving me this incredible opportunity to convey my affection for Laredo through my art. As I embarked on the creative journey to conceptualize this poster, my thoughts naturally gravitated towards the reflection of my life in this border town, Laredo, which I proudly call home. Memories of a life rich with gratitude and the enduring traditions and customs that make our city truly unique flooded my mind. My passion for architecture, history, and my faith in God ultimately served as the wellspring of inspiration for the poster, which I’ve entitled ‘Reflejos on the Rio Grande.’ It is my sincerest hope that the Laredo community will find joy in it and that it will evoke a deep sense of pride in our shared identity. Once again, I extend my heartfelt thanks to WBCA for their tireless dedication in organizing such a grand celebration, commemorating the birthday of our nation’s first President, George Washington,”
said poster artist Roberto González.
The Official Artwork will be used to promote our city and the celebration.
Roberto Gonzalez, was born in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico to parents Manuel and Aurora Gonzalez. He was one of 10 children. When he was only 4-years-old, his family immigrated to Laredo, Texas and Roberto has lived here ever since. Early on, Roberto’s parents recognized their son had an innate artistic talent and encouraged him to nurture this gift whenever possible throughout his youth.
Roberto credits his middle school art teacher, Ms. Duvina Moran and his oil painting teacher, Ms. Maria Tejada, for helping to further expand his artistic talent as a young man. After graduating from Martin High School in 1969, he attended Laredo Community College and then the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1974. While attending UT, he met his wife Teresa Ramos Gonzalez, who is also an artist and talented Architect. They married in 1977.
After graduating from UT Austin, Roberto worked for a commercial architectural firm for two years in Austin, before moving back to Laredo to branch out on his own. Together with his wife, they formed Ramos-Gonzalez Design, a design and construction firm. Together, they designed and built beautiful homes in Austin, Kerrville, San Antonio, Encinal, Zapata, San Ignacio, Corpus Christi, Nuevo Laredo, and Monterrey. The two also took on interior design, restoration, and other artistic projects.
In Laredo and the surrounding areas, their work can be seen in various spaces of worship. They designed and constructed the chapel for the Congregation of St John in Laredo, the sanctuary of San Martin de Porres, the chapel of Rosa Mistica, the bell tower of The Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Encinal, and lastly, a retreat center for the Carmelite Nuns in Salvador De Bahia, in Brazil.
Among his many artistic projects, Roberto, also created a life-size Virgen de Guadalupe (carved and painted in Bulto style on mahogany wood), proudly displayed and worshipped at Holy Family Catholic Church. He later carved a second image of the Virgen de Guadalupe for his wife Teresa, and this statue is proudly displayed right here, at “The Laredo Mansion.” Among his other notable art projects include a Mural at Villa Serena in Austin; the entrance design to JSJ Estates Subdivision in Laredo, and the Diocesan Coat of Arms. His hand-molded ceramics were also famously featured as part of a one-man show at the Arboretum in Austin, Texas.
Roberto is also well-known in Laredo for opening up the “Laredo Gallery.” The Laredo Gallery featured art exhibits for the community to enjoy and a rare opportunity for international artists to highlight their work. He was recently awarded a distinctive recognition by the Consulado General de Mexico for his contribution to the Arts. Roberto was also recently recognized by Texas Monthly for the restoration of the “Laredo Mansion” –From the stained-glass windows, and Corinthian-style capitals, to the decorative moldings and floors – every inch of the design and restoration project was carefully thought out and executed. It is clear that Roberto is multi-faceted and multi-talented and takes great delight in creating art in numerous mediums, whether they be oil painting, painting on glass and wood, wood sculptures or clay figures. His artistic influences come from his travels, love of architecture, and deep appreciation of nature. It is clear Roberto views the world with a keen artistic eye and finds art and beauty in everything he sees – particularly so, when it comes to his beloved hometown. He describes Laredo as a city that unites two countries, two languages, and two traditions that reflect the unparalleled majesty and diversity that is the United States of America, a country founded by George Washington, whom we illustriously honor with these celebrations. This place he calls home, serves as his greatest canvas, where he has forever left an indelible and permanent imprint.
But what Roberto is MOST proud of, of course, is his family. Roberto and his wife Teresa have a son, Roberto David Gonzalez, a daughter-in-law Janice De La Viña Gonzalez and three (3) beautiful grandchildren, Venice, Zoey, and Lucas.
This event is made possible with the support our Event Sponsors which include: Dos Marias, Tequila Sariel, Happy Kernels, Cakeland, Miller Lite, Budweiser, and Abner Miranda. Special thanks to The Laredo Mansion and the Gonzalez family for providing the venue for the event.
The 126th Celebration Commemorative Poster, “Reflejos on the Rio Grande”, as well as any other WBCA souvenirs may be purchased at the WBCA office at 1819 E. Hillside Road or online at www.wbcalaredo.org. The commemorative poster will also be used for the cover of the official 2024 WBCA Program Book and invitations.
Throughout the years, the Celebration has grown to be over a month long and consists of parades, dazzling pageants, fireworks, a carnival, an air show, a sizzling Jalapeño Festival and much more. Combined, WBCA events attract nearly 500,000 residents and visitors, and contribute an estimated $14 million every year to the local economy.