Laredo is definitely a melting pot of cultures. Within our city we can find many families, businesses, and entities from all over the world. Of course, being right on the border, we take great pride in both our American and Hispanic heritage. For this reason, events like the Sister Cities Festival are so important to the community and offer us a little taste of what we’re missing from our brothers and sisters from across.

Sister Cities is a celebration of Mexican culture as it brings together over 200 exhibitors and vendors representing across 60 cities from all over Mexico, all under one roof. From Tex-Mex, to authentic Mexican and Latin, there are literally hundreds of selections in terms of vendors all housed in the grand indoor mercado.

Join us in exploring through countless pieces including jewelry, clothes, toys, home decor, and even unique foods and ingredients, all authentic and made in Mexico. Sister Cities is a tour across the rich tapestry that is Mexican culture, bursting in color, personality, and crafted with dedication and love. However, it isn’t just Mexico this event brings together but also people from all over the world. It is an international expo that celebrates union and trust in one another as neighbors.

While Laredo is known as the “Gateway to Mexico,” its strategic location as the nation’s largest inland port makes it the “Gateway to the World.” Established under seven flags, Laredo now embraces a global culture with the influx of new nationalities, each with their own unique flavor. By creating this network not only with Mexico but with the world, we can learn from other cultures and share a bit of what makes each of us unique. It is a great privilege that Laredo lies at the center of this communion, and it is definitely quite the experience to just indulge in what the rest of the world has to offer. Whether you want a traditional new outfit or accessory, or whether you want to try some of that authentic Mexican cuisine, come on over to Sister Cities and show your support. The event is an entire weekend, spanning three days, July 13-15, at the Laredo Energy Arena. Admission is free. 

Doña Maclovia

by Jorge Santana

In the ranch where I grew up there were few neighbors, but one of them was Doña Maclovia and her strange family. Maclovia’s husband was a quiet, tall man, much older than her; a reserved man, sitting on a bench for hours, staring at nothingness, letting the days go by as if they were free. He always wore the same clothes, the same hair, the same look; a man that I thought was mute for many years, until one day he shouted in a low and hoarse voice, “watch out!” because there was a snake in the stable where I used to look for those little critters that dig holes in the earth to catch their victims, the famous “toritos,” small rhinoceros beetles. Maclovia was a short, dark, robust woman, with grayed hair, with huge breasts, which she unenticingly pressed against me upon her greetings, and also always the same clothes, or at least so I remember. Maclovia smelled like an old forgotten book. Her house was immense: two stories, with paint peeling off, which had once been a screeching green, but it was in deterioration, with a rusty gate, and some broken windows covered with duct tape. In the kitchen, to help out, Maclovia had set up a small shop, which had no ads other than a Coca-Cola sign outside the house. There was an old refrigerator that always shocked me horribly when I pulled out a cold, sweating apple soda, my favorite. Maclovia, apart from sodas and other dusty things, sold marshmallows. Sometimes they were very hard due to the months without anyone buying them, but it was the only sweet available in the inhospitable desert. Maclovia was the first to arrive at house wakes, those funerals where you could smell death because you had the deceased literally in front of you, without a box, sometimes on the floor, or in his own bed where he had died. Maclovia was a churchwoman; the first to arrive at mass, the last to leave. She hosted a nativity scene at her home, and she tucked and raised that baby Jesus: the only of her possessions that shone polished. She had roosters and a pig that accompanied me in nightmares, because once when I wanted to feed him, Maclo told me to be careful because he could bite my hand or eat me like the others. Maclovia sold burgers, stark and simple. She made the meat, and softened the hard bread with butter on the griddle. She finished it with simple slices of avocado, and accompanied with a soda, that hamburger tasted like glory in those forty-odd Celsius, I sat on the bench outside her kitchen to finish every bite.

One day, the dogs of the neighborhood, several of them, went blind. They kept running into trees and walls, blind and bleeding. Maclovia, so they wouldn’t get close to her chickens, had thrown boiling water on their eyes. When I found out, I never visited her again. I did not turn around to see her again; she became like a witch in my childhood mind. I did not let her hug me again and feel those huge breasts of a protective mother. Anyway, that’s just how this is dear reader.


Photographer Rolan Sanchez

by Oscar Perez

Rolan Sanchez, is a lifestyle and fashion photographer who captures the beauty of life with every photo he takes. He is an artist at heart that has tapped into creativity and believes you don’t need to get fancy about equipment to capture the moments. He loves telling stories with his photos and focuses on sharing the uniqueness of everyone and everything he “SHOOTS.” I caught up with him in late March to talk all about the art of photography, creativity, developing skills, and an insight to his journey so far.


Oscar Perez: Rolan! What’s up! Tell me what are you up to right now? Where am I catching you at?

Rolan: Oh man… I’m meeting a couple of deadlines right now for this monthly thing [Fashion Photography] that I do, as well as making final adjustments to some photos of a friend who is applying for the Hooters calendar. Also, helping out another friend with marketing material for the barbershop he just opened. And a bunch of other behind-the-scenes stuff like: framing prints, writing emails, and making sure I nap in between haha!

Awesome! Tell me, when was the first time you became aware of your creativity? How did you know photography was something you wanted to do?

I didn’t always want to be a photographer. I actually wanted to be a Marine Biologist. However, I remember I was online on the search engine, BING, and they had nature backgrounds [on their site] that I really liked. I was fascinated by them and wanted to find out how they were made. This is where it started. It was all about learning the technical side of photography first and the creative side of photography happened when I started working with Digital Republic [a creative studio] where I was given the “go ahead” by Jeffrey Castillo to do whatever I wanted when shooting behind the scenes. It gave me freedom.

Did you take any classes that helped with sparking your creativity?

As far as being creative, I didn’t take a class on it. Jumping back to being technical, I did take the basic art classes in high school and did learn a lot from that. I tied that in with photography, where they teach you about the color wheel, shapes, and lines. I learned the rules and then I learned how to break them.

Do you remember your first photo?

Yeah, a sunset at Lake Casa Blanca. Laredo has some of the nicest sunsets I have ever seen.

Nice! So, how long have you been a photographer?

Six years [Professionally]

What’s your photography style? What’s the one thing you are trying to capture right now?

My style constantly changes. For the past year, I have been sticking to the “raw” look on my photos. In my work you see a lot of reds. “Red and Edgy.”  Right now, I’ve been into portrait photography. I shoot a lot of fashion stuff.

What are you shooting with right now?

I’ve been shooting with the same DSLR camera that I started shooting with. It’s a Canon 60D. Believe it or not, I shoot a lot with my stock lens of 18-135mm. I also just purchased my first L series lens, Canon’s 50mm 1.2!

What’s in your camera bag?

My Canon 60D, 50mm 1.2, 10mm-22mm lens, and stock lens. I can travel with everything.

With portrait photography, what’s your vision for each photo?

So, everybody is different. Every time I shoot somebody….

Wait. (whispers) You SHOOT people?

Yeah, I SHOOT people every day, hahaha. Everybody is different. I connect my style with their personality when I take photos. My style comes in through the lighting and camera settings. Their personality comes in [with the actual photo]. They are usually nervous so I usually start a conversation to break the ice. That’s when I get their natural facial expressions.

Does the thought that you are “freezing” time come to mind when you are shooting people?

It does cross my mind. Capturing what the person looks like today to what they will look like in the future [or even if they will be here a year from now] does cross my mind.

Is there a certain routine you have for creating your art through photography?

When I shoot for fun, I do have a routine. I write down what my goal is for a photo. I usually write down 2 or 3 photos that I want to get for the day. I take it from there.

When have you pushed your skillset as a photographer?

I can say I adapt to what’s going on around me. I don’t necessarily push my skill but rather adapt to the environment. For example, New York is a fast paced city so I’ll use long exposure to show movement in my photos. I guess where I push myself is telling the story of what I’m doing in the moment. Adapting to the environment.

Tell me, how have you developed those skills that you use to adapt to the environments?

It’s a little of everything. YouTube, online articles, mentors, and experiences too! I go to YouTube for technical stuff like editing. I read articles on different stuff: color tones, framing, etc. For mentors, I have had two mentors. One for video and one for photography. I shadowed Jeffrey Castillo (DigitalJeff) for photography since I was 15. As far as experience, it’s important not to be afraid to make mistakes and put myself in different environments.

So, have you mastered it? Have you put in 10,000 hours of work with photography?

I don’t know. How many hours are in a year?

???????????? (Clueless.)


Moving on… haha. What has been the most challenging project or obstacle you have had?

I had a photographer’s worst nightmare happen. One of my monthly clients’ photos were due and a day before the deadline I lost my SD card. I had to redo the photoshoot the day of the deadline in the morning. The client was understandable, but I was pissed at myself.

Wow! How does one fix that with a client? How did you do it?

Be straight up. Own it and communicate with the person who is in charge with the truth. Don’t sugar coat anything. At the end of the day, no one cares about the details other than “when will it be done?”

Truth. Thanks for sharing that bro! Tell me what has been the photo you’ve shot that you like the most?

A photo of my Grandpa that was taken a couple of months before he got Alzheimer’s. In this picture, he still recognized who I was. It’s a strong photo.

So, what’s one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to start with photography?

SHOOT. Hehehe. Go out and shoot. Super simple and cliché. If you want to learn photography, don’t worry about the equipment you are using. A simple stock lens and a DSLR [camera] will do the job. Also, don’t expect to get paid for everything. However, don’t do anything for free either.

What do you think of the photography community in Laredo?

There’s a new group on Facebook called Photographer’s Pit. I’m not too involved with the actual community so I can’t tell you how big it is. I can tell you that I have noticed there are a lot of up-and-coming photographers from high school.

How important do you think it is for a photographer to have a community of photographers around them?

It helps you because you learn from different people. It can also be bad because some people start seeing it as competition. Competition isn’t really important because everyone has their own style in photography.

Hey man, so tell me about social media. Is that something you are using to get your work out there?

I don’t really post but I do love using Instagram for inspiration. I follow my favorite photographers on there.

Where can we find your work?

I post a lot on my Instagram [Story] and they can follow my work on my website where I have my blog where I share life experiences, how-tos, and behind the scenes of my photo shoots. I am also shooting a personal vlog nowadays.

Is there anything coming up here in the near future that you are excited about?

Yes! Last year, I launched my business Flux Photo & Video. I am looking forward to a destination wedding that we booked and is coming up soon. Stay tuned for a behind the scenes of that experience.

That is awesome! Well Rolan, thanks for meeting with me today and for sharing your story with our audience! I’m sure your journey will inspire others to grab a camera and SHOOT some people… and places… and things!


Don’t forget to follow Rolan’s journey on social media: @Rolan_Sanch and keep up with his work on his website!


Oscar Perez


Bewitching Legends

by Jorge Santana

In the tours that I host for my historical neighborhood of San Pedro, there is a place that calls my attention in particular. It’s a small, round, a very strangely shaped hut. It is a tour of myths, a tour of terror; not one of historical accuracy, although legends tend to become history for better or for worse. The legend (like many myths), hides a background of “objective” reality far away. I like that contrast, sometimes I think I’ve managed to survive solely because I can live in that middle point of twilight, between legend and reality, between fantasy and the dull truth. Well, when I walk past the house, with megaphone in hand and a line of people behind me, I begin to tell the legend. “In that round house, they say, an African witch lived, in the mid-1800s when the black soldiers called the “Buffalo Soldiers” arrived at Fort McIntosh (now the Laredo Community College) were a cavalry that came to this border to defend the gringos from the Indians. It is said that this woman practiced black magic in that little hut, from draining the blood of goats and chickens, to performing macabre potions with the hair or breeches of the white soldiers, oppressors of the Afro soldiers.” People get excited with the story, except for the owner of the house, who once chased us off her sidewalk with the spray of her hose. It is understandable: the woman rents that little house, and if the tenants knew they were sleeping on an old river of haunted blood, they would want to move from there. The point of all this is that I like to think about what will happen to us when we are dead. What will they say about us, about our lives, what legends are we forming without knowing, and about how many legends are we being part of? I can already imagine: “In that house they say, lived a man who wrote poems and whatnot. They say that he killed himself because he was never able to live off his writing.” Well, that’s what they would say, when in fact I died because they hit me with a car, or due to some disease, or perhaps by spontaneous human combustion, or gods only know what exactly will happen to me. Someday, someone will rent my house and the new owner will run them off with “manguerazos” for walking by saying that under the orchid tree hung the previous owner (me) for ingesting poorly prepared toloache. I do not know if that witch lived there, if it really happened what they say happened, but when I walk down that sidewalk, I do it just a little bit faster, dear reader.


An Interview with Armela Rea Mariano

by Oscar Perez

Armela Rea Mariano, is a local artist from the Philippines who writes, sculpts and paints! Her story will inspire you to take a leap a faith into that dream you have been trying to pursue! I caught up with Armela in late February to talk all about art, inspiration, community, and her experience so far in this world of art.

Oscar: Armela, thanks for taking some time to meet with me today! What are you up to currently?

Armela: Hi! Well right now I have been working on my handmade jewelry business and I’m getting ready for the Hecho-A-Mano Market in March!

Great! Tell me, when did you first know art was something you wanted to do? What’s your first memory?

The first art memory I have is of me being a toddler and walking into my dad’s office to vandalize his table! Ha-ha! I would draw stick-figures of people with white-out.

Ha-ha! Awesome! How about school? Did you study art?

Yes! When I was in the Philippines I started drawing anime characters in elementary school because that was the popular style at the time! I ended up doing that through high school. I then came to Laredo and studied Art here at TAMIU.

So what did you do after you got your degree?

Well this sounds cliché, but it’s true what they say about the “starving artist.” When I graduated, this reality hit me. I was applying for jobs that revolved around art but it wasn’t going anywhere. I got really disheartened so I ended up studying for nursing and stopped creating art.

Oh wow! How did you end up getting back into Art?

When I was working as a nurse I realized it wasn’t really what I wanted. I wasn’t happy. I had to quit nursing and in 2016 I started my business with handmade jewelry. It was then that I started doing art again and this included art for myself as well. I started participating in shows.

What was an obstacle you faced when getting into doing art full-time?

When I graduated school with an art degree, I did not find a job. I had to choose between art and nursing. I stopped creating art. It was a hard transition.

Once you started creating art, did you have a certain style?

You can say that during school I developed an art style. I was told that my art felt organic. My style has changed from then to now. I now use all types of medium and am now sculpting with polymer clay.

That’s great! What helped that style evolve?

Practicing every day. It helped me figure my style out by trying new things. You really don’t know what type of medium you are good at if you never try it.

If you had to choose one medium to use going forward which one would it be?

I can say that it would be clay. It’s more about the logistics of creation. I can carry clay with me anywhere I go and I like that I am creating with my hands. It relaxes me.

What inspires your work? Where does it come from?

My own personal life experiences inspire me. When I’m going through “something,” I channel that energy into art. I get inspired when I’m depressed. Ha-ha! I don’t know if that’s a good thing but I get motivated by it! I channel that energy and it manifests into something real.

What’s one common theme you see in your art?

Most of my art is about the human condition. I’m very fascinated by the idea of decay, death, and heartbreak. Most of the human emotions that we try to suppress have been shared in my art. In this way, the people that look at my art can reflect within themselves. It will connect with people and start a conversation.

Do you have a routine for creating?

Before I make something, I obsess over the process of how I will make the piece. It can be days and days of envisioning the steps. Once I get into a certain emotional state, I create the art. I don’t sketch the pieces, I just start creating.

What’s the biggest obstacle in creating art? How do you get past it?

I can say that it’s myself! Ha-ha! I procrastinate and at times I can be lazy. To get over it, I look through other artists’ work and it inspires me to get going.

What’s the one art piece you created that means the most to you?

It was an art piece I created in 2007. The piece is Untitled and it’s about an individual with a loose rope around his neck. It tells the story of trying to move on but not being able to. I was going through heartbreak.

When did you first start sharing your art publicly? What was the initial reaction?

Back in college I started posting my art on It was nice having people share how they appreciated my art. I like getting people’s feedback on my work. I also had blogs to share some poems.

That’s great! Tell me, what’s the toughest feedback you have received?

A classmate back in college told me that I signed my name too big on my canvases because I was showing off. I have to say that it really got to me! It impacted the way I sign my art.

Do you think artists should change with the feedback they receive?

If you think that the feedback and the ‘change’ will be beneficial well then you may want to open your mind to the feedback. However, if the feedback is criticism for criticism’s sake or just to bring you down, then don’t listen to those people.

On another note, what’s the best feedback you have received?

I remember doing a performance art piece during our Senior show in college when all of a sudden I was overcome with emotion. I remember a classmate of mine shouting, “You can do it,” and later on telling me that I had a beautiful mind. That was really touching.

What’s one piece of advice you would give an artist who just started?

Aside from doing what you love, you should be who you are. It’s not a requirement to have deep meaning for every art piece so just create your art and keep creating.

That’s great advice! Tell me about our local art community and what’s your involvement in it?

I started attending a local event by the name of Art Bazaar. It was there that I met a local artist, Sandra Gonzalez, who introduced me to Hecho-A-Mano market. It all started because I had sold her a piece of jewelry and she suggested to sell my work at this market. This was 2016.

How important has the community been to your work?

I can say that meeting other artists inspires me. I get ideas from them and it lets me know that I’m not alone in this pursuit of art.

What’s your dream with art?

I think the goal is, “do what you love.” It’s cliché, but they say, “if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.” Making art is a form of self-satisfaction and therapy. I want to make sure I continue doing that.

Great! Thanks for sharing that thought with us! Where can we find your art? Do you have any shows coming up?

I have an Etsy shop: ArmelaReaHandmade, where I sell my handmade jewelry as well as my Facebook Page: ArmelaRea.

As far as finding it locally, you can find my work at the Hecho-A-Mano market. For shows, a friend of mine and I want to have an art show but it’s something we are working on so I am working on expanding my portfolio right now.

Armela, thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Your story will inspire people!

Don’t forget to go follow Armela’s Facebook page to keep up with her work as well as her Instagram @ReiMariano to keep up with her story.


Oscar Perez


Life is Short & The Universe is Big

by Jorge Santana

My bed were two chairs and my pillow a woman’s purse. That’s how sleep overcame me past midnight while my friends, a little older than me, kept declaiming, singing or speaking technicalities to the wind. That’s how I remember the social gatherings of my childhood. Those I went to when I was barely a surprise in my mother’s womb. I grew up knowing what a bohemia was after the bohemia, the after of the after, playing with my dolls while dawn arrived with poetry and boleros. I grew up between the sensual smoke of my friends with an orange juice as I hummed to the music, art and the night. There exists no better combination.

My friends were always my friends even if they were 40, 50, 60, or years older than me. I never knew they weren’t like me. That they weren’t children and maybe even I didn’t know that I was a kid. For me, they were my friends and that romantic world was my childhood. I believe they were unaware that was my childhood and that they were a huge part of it.

At home things weren’t all that different. Away from technology, in my home, there was little else to do but read, play in the patio with my imagination, in the dirt, with the trees, have a dog and be their friend, and at night be amazed by the stars. I didn’t know more.That was it. Everything that I could wish for and then more. I had the privilege of a solitude so beautiful that I wouldn’t change for anything.

Growing up untimely had its advantages and disadvantages. I couldn’t get along with children my age. I thought cartoons were dumb and I didn’t understand video games. I still struggle to find a place with people my age, but I enjoy being different. What can I do, asi semos no somos an old saying goes.

For me, it’s a unique fortuity that I’m thankful for everyday. The point of all this is to think about how many things would’ve happened to me had my parents decided to give me a “normal” life by not including me in their adult world. How many things would I have missed out on had I followed the rules, societal norms, the rigid structure that people say we need to follow?

How different would the world be if we chose to step out of our routines, of what should be, give ourselves the permission to explore life and take a different street, ask for something different than our usual at a restaurant. For us to use red when we’re known to wear green, smile in a serious moment, or go to a funeral dressed in yellow.

Think about how many things we miss out on, really think on it my readers. Life is short and the universe is big, is it worth it to be afraid of what’s different?

Shellee: Artist, Mother,  Free-Thinker

by Oscar Perez

Shellee Laurent, a Laredo artist, approaches the creation of art with no limits. She’s one mentally strong artist who knows what she wants to create and is not afraid to use any mediums that will bring her inspiration to life. I got a chance to meet up with her over a cup of coffee to talk about her journey in this art world, the obstacles she faces, the inspiration behind the work and her view on the art community.


Oscar: Shellee, so what are you up to right now as far as Art goes?

Shellee: I’m always working on growing as an artist, daily. Right now, I’m challenging myself to work on anatomy. I’m slowly trying different things and moving into installation/performance art. After 18 years of being an artist, I still learn every day.

When did art become a ‘thing’ for you? What’s your earliest memory?

When I was 8 or 9, I got introduced to David Bowie. Even though he was a musician, his creativity with makeup, music, and costumes made me want to question my own identity. Nature also played a big part. I used to spend a lot of time sketching trees and birds while growing up in Iowa. I even sketched dead animals. 

Did you pursue art in school?

I did, it started in middle school, then high school and college. However, I don’t want to say school wasn’t for me but I don’t think I love learning in a structured way. I learn more organically. I’m always collecting hobbies. If I’m interested in something I pick up a book and learn about it.

What’s your style? What defines you as an artist?

I don’t think I can ever look in the mirror and say “I’m an Artist”. That takes balls. This is a hard one, however, I think if you create daily you are an artist. My style right now is more expressive, more thinking, more mindful.

How do you challenge yourself to continue developing your style? What’s your advice on that?

I think you should take at least 5 to 10 minutes a day to create something even when you don’t have the time. Work every day. It keeps your mind fresh.

What’s your preferred medium?

I can work with any medium; I really don’t follow the rules. I’m not tethered. I’m tethered in physical form but not tethered in mind, so I see opportunity with any medium. Whatever medium is around, will work. I’ve used everything from toilet paper to cardboard, even lipsticks.

What’s the biggest obstacle you have faced when it comes to creating?

Space. There could be times where you live in a shitty apartment and not have a studio. Some artists can’t afford a studio so you have to work from your kitchen table or bed. The obstacle has always been finding space. I overcome it by painting outside. The other obstacle is LIFE happening, you know, distractions happen.

Let’s spend some time on distraction. What’s the biggest distraction that keeps you from creating?

The biggest distraction has been me questioning my responsibility as an artist with all the things going on in the world. I ask myself if I should sacrifice my personal desire for the art I want to create and instead create something to address what is going on in the world. Being a feminist I feel responsible to speak up for women.

How do you move past the distraction?

Disconnecting from phone or TV has helped. I love being informed so I do watch TV but sometimes turning it off and disconnecting from that is more impactful. I have a responsibility to look and not look away, so staying up to date is important.

Do you have a routine for creating?

I usually have things organized for easy access. I separate everything by medium. I can say there is structure as much as there is chaos. I put my headphones on, play music and I’ll just focus on the work. Being a mom it’s hard sometimes to disconnect from my kids but they have learned to respect that time. I’m raising them in a way where they know that I respect their creativity time as well. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

It’s going to get a little “Adult” right now. My sexuality. Tuning into my own sexuality inspires me. It derives from passion. I think passion is very important. If I’m admiring something, I’m invoking all my senses. I try to do that as much as possible. I think it’s important to talk about sexuality. It’s part of who we are as humans. Some of my abstract work is very sexual but someone may not understand it.

What’s the one art piece you created that has challenged you the most?

The very first art piece I created after a horrible heart break. I had not painted for two years at the time and I remember I was in my bedroom reading. I then looked at my closet, the clothes and lighting looked very ‘sketchable’ at that moment. I didn’t have anything to create since I had stopped creating art at that time. I looked for paper and I remember grabbing an eyeliner pencil and I started to sketch. That was the first art piece after those two years. I was afraid that I had lost the creativity. That piece came out very lovely. It made those two years feel like it was only one day.

Why did you stop creating for two years?

I got consumed with how I was going to live without him. I feel that ‘not creating’ was a penance for myself.  I was young and took the gift [of creativity] for granted. I was consumed with the idea of flesh. I was about living life and doing whatever I wanted. It was hard. This made me grow the f*&* up.

Thanks for sharing that with us! What advice would you give a young artist who is just getting started?

For them to do their research. To understand what work they are producing and understand the demographic of people that are willing to buy that work. Get involved on social media. I would recommend starting there. Research and learn. Take risks. Life can be long and boring if you don’t.

Let me ask you about the art community here in Laredo, did it exist when you got to Laredo?

It was here but it was small and now it’s growing; there is a mixture of everything. You know, egos can get in the way as a community but as an artist you have to push past that. We have to realize we are all made out of the same material, we are all connected, so we have to respect that. I think right now the community is blossoming artistically. We’re all trying to help it grow.

That’s awesome! Tell me what’s your dream with art?

Just the capacity to be able to do it when I’m 80. For me it’s not about being famous or known. At the end of the day, the art is for me really. It’s for my sanity and my existence. I love to share it and love when people appreciate it; it is heart-warming. That’s it… To still be creating when I’m 80.

Shellee, thank you for taking time to meet with me today! I know your story will inspire others. Where can people connect with you and see your art?

Facebook: The Art of Shellee Laurent

Instagram: @leelaurent22



Go follow Shellee on Instagram @leelaurent22 to keep up with her on this journey! She has big plans for 2018!

Methods to Living Quasi-Happy

by Jorge Santana

Imagine a murderer chasing me, I’m running away from the “migra” or I’m escaping the sharp teeth of a possessed clown: that’s how I’m motivated to run. I like to go at night, but very late at night, when there is no humanity around the old school that I use as a track. Among the danger of loneliness is the best place to run, to think, to open the strainer, and let the whirlpool wash away the stress of the day. In my ears, the eclectic shuffle, from the cumbia to a Charleston, from Sinatra to Queen, from Chavela Vargas to María Callas, from Lara to Rachmaninoff. This is how I forget the world for a while. Occasionally, I’ll run into other kamikaze runners also throwing themselves into the night, but we do not even cross sights. We respect that search for the purest solitude and we pretend that we did not see each other. The only witness of that running between the beautiful risk of the night, is the police officer of the school that from time to time, leaves the doughnuts and the coffee to make their rounds while he talks on the cell phone with the second girlfriend who loves him despite him being overweight. But there are more witnesses, the desert fauna, a bony coyote from time to time, a snake, the fat frog, the jumping squirrel, or the little group of stray dogs that go to cool under the automatic sprinklers and smell the good news. The exercise is the least prioritized. I go to de-stress, to climb a bit to the moon and take a bite, to deeply breathe in the aroma of freshly cut grass, as deep as the miraculous girdle I wear allows me. It is not so miraculous, but sometimes only the promise is enough. You dear reader, what do you do for de-stressing? The occasional cigarette and coffee were never for me. The wine helps from time to time. I do not know how to play any instrument either. I like to see the pianos yes, and sometimes I sit in front of the piano just watching it, as if waiting for me to answer a question that I still have not asked. It is as if I wait for magic to exist so it will start playing alone. I do not know, maybe it has something to do with Nostalgia or my screws are loosening. Another effective method is to clean the house. I’m not afraid of Ajax and the metal scouring pad, but what great de-stress it is scouring floors and spraying Windex on the window. Both heavy chemicals, but either way, we must all die of something, and at least when they come to pick up the body, they’ll find the house clean.

Now, if we talked about what stresses me, “uff,” we would never finish. Opening the mailbox (bills); going to a public bathroom and knowing that in the flush lever alone there are 4 trillion germs ready to kiss my skin; having to explain to the hairdresser the same cut as always every time I see them; that to ask someone a favor, they give 34 runarounds to the subject until finally you ask the question and you’ve already lost not only access to the favor, but time; the weeping babies watching drama movies at the movies; and the list goes on. However, stress can be nice as it gives us that moment of release, each of us achieving it in our own way: each madman in his world, each shoemaker with his boot. We all have that moment, where we smile with eyes closed, and we know we have arrived at that perfect place. Even if it’s for a while, at least until the next bill arrives, until your ex sends you a message, until another baby cries at the cinema or they tell you “We ran out” when you ask for that which you like the most.

Words of the Dreamers


This past year, I was blessed with the opportunity to interview Laredo Artists and share those stories with you. I focused on asking questions that would share their story of making their dreams a reality. It’s important to note that there are many different paths to take in order to live your dream, but there is one thing they all have in common and that is to get WORK done. Doing nothing will result in nothing. I wanted to kick 2018 into high gear by sharing some of the inspirational highlights from the interviews and pairing them with artwork I created to tell the story of chasing dreams. Here are some things to consider in order to make your dreams a reality given to you by our very own Laredo Artists.


“Get focused on what you want to do, work hard at it and have fun! The money, exposure, and style come along the way and it changes through time.”

– Melly Rodriguez @IslasMowin

“My vision is to be the best. To be the next Damien Hirst. That’s my vision. It’s super crazy. I’m not just trying to make a nice little living. I want to be amazing.”

– Mauro C. Martinez @ZTM_ORUAM

“Six years ago, I made it a point that I really needed to start creating art again! I had to give up some stuff as there are only so many hours in the day so I could focus strictly on the art.”

– Oscar Gomez @Ambush.Bug

“We are all born artists. Sometimes we get talked out of becoming an artist or told there is no money in it. That is simply not true.”

– Carlos Rene Ramirez Jr. @Sketch83


“I fill out a Moleskine sketchbook every year. It’s the one constant piece of creativity I try to stick to. That’s where I keep all my sketches, ideas, to do lists, and business stuff. Mostly I just put a podcast and get to work. I try to make 1-3 new pieces every month.”

– Ashley Tristan @MoonHowlerPress

“An artist needs to create/draw all the time. If you want to develop your skill you need to work on it.”

– Oscar Gomez @Ambush.Bug

“I sketch before I create any illustration, logotype, art toy, or mural design. All art creation starts with a pencil and a piece of paper.”

– Melly Rodriguez @IslasMowin

“I tell my students that talent alone will not take you as far as you can go. The artist with less talent who is actively practicing their skill will surpass a talented artist who doesn’t practice.”

– Ale Garza @Le_Vent

“Work, work, work, work, work. Creativity doesn’t run out. The more you work, the more you get inspired.”

– Erika Lamar Buentello @ErikaBeesWax

“My routine is like my style; it’s not a set routine but rather an adjustable one. I find ways to get work done. All artists have sacrifices to get work done. I have to give up stuff I like to continue creating.”

– Ricardo A. Guerrero III @Rag3Artist


“Put yourself out there and take criticism with a grain of salt. Don’t be scared of showing your work because I can assure you that at least a handful of people will like your work.”

– Ashley Tristan @MoonHowlerPress

“I would say put yourself out there. And I mean not just your work but also yourself, physically, out there talking to people. This is tough for most of us. I say be part of that universe out there because you don’t know who you might inspire.”

– Ricardo A Guerrero III @Rag3Artist

“As an artist, if you have a certain skillset that can help an organization, business, or community, you should offer your services and this will bring attention to your art.”

– Carlos Rene Ramirez Jr. @Sketch83


“An art community is like family! They support you and you learn new ideas, how to innovate, create, work and how to make a living from the art by spending time with them.”

– Melly Rodriguez @IslasMowin

“It’s hard to create in a vacuum. Being an artist, though so often solitary, improves with talk, with feedback and with exploration. A solid community of peers makes that exploration so much more feasible.”

– Erika Lamar Buentello @ErikaBeesWax

“Nothing beats the feeling and support of having a local art community. You can interact with folks in person and meet other local artists who can give you feedback on your work, help you learn new techniques, and have a group of creative folks to bounce ideas off of.”

– Ashley Tristan @MoonHowlerPress

 “Attractions don’t make Laredo, the people make the city, they are the main bloodline of the city. When I got involved with the Hecho-A-Mano community event, it was great for me in the sense that I got people who saw my work, smiled, laughed, and talked with me about the art.”

– Ricardo A. Guerrero III @Rag3Artist

Every day is a new opportunity, a new start. Take action and you will see results. The thoughts and words shared by these artists can be applied to all types of dreams not only those in the creative field. It all starts with a vision followed by hard work which results in growth for you as a human being. Wait no longer as the journey is long. Take your first step today.

Oscar Perez


You can participate in helping share artists stories by emailing the name of an artist whose story needs to be shared to