The Rio Grande Valley is known for its irrigation pipes alongside the network of canals that have historically provided water from the river to farm fields.
The pipes remain standing amid a now urbanized region with farming pushed further out from expanding city limits. McAllen is among the Valley cities that have utilized property alongside canals for hike-and-bike trails. There are more than 200 irrigation pipes in the city, many of them along McAllen trails on 2nd Street and Bicentennial Boulevard.
Keep McAllen Beautiful realized that these enduring irrigation pipes presented an opportunity to showcase public art. In 2019, it issued a Call For Artists. The organization received several applications and design concepts from local artists who wanted to use the pipes as canvases.
The Public Art Committee of the organization reviewed the applications. The artists’ work selection highlights local history, culture and native habitat. Students, teachers and retirees were among those chosen in turning the irrigation pipes into showcases for local art.
This year’s class of artists chosen to display their work on the irrigation pipes are:
- Esmeralda Benitez, a retired art teacher, who features green parrots and sunflowers.
- Brittany Luna, an area art teacher, showcasing Valley citrus.
- Cristina Pechero, Conchita Flores and Manuel Robledo for their work depicting native flowers.
- Lisa Saldivar, the art director for the McAllen school district, whose works features hummingbirds, cactus and green parrots.
- Cecilia Sierra, a college student from Brownsville, for art work featuring turtles, an armadillo and a kiskadee.
- Jennifer Torres, a local student, with a painting of hummingbirds, butterflies and watermelons on two of the pipes.
“These experienced artists have creatively transformed a huge chunk of concrete into gorgeous works of art that the whole community can enjoy,” said Chris Lash, the coordinator for Keep McAllen Beautiful.