After a blistering afternoon, Art Institute of California-San Diego sophomore Lane Ontiberos packed his paint, brushes and ladder in the trunk of his car. He pulled up to ice cream and frozen yogurt shop TCBY on MLK Boulevard. But Ontiberos was not there for a cold treat — he was there to paint a mural.
“He’s been working for a month and a half,” TCBY store owner Michael Trub said. “It’s very detailed. (Painting) the backdrop of downtown with the Congress (Avenue) Bridge took a while.”
Ontiberos said he emailed about 40 companies, then hopped in his car to find a building that would give him a chance. Then he met Trub.
“He was looking for somebody to do a mural,” Ontiberos said. “I was looking for somebody with a wall. It just happened.”
Trub said Ontiberos approached him about the mural two months ago. Considering that he always wanted art for his store, Trub commissioned Ontiberos in the hopes of creating a mutually beneficial project.
“This mural is the first I’m doing by myself,” Ontiberos said. “Another muralist I worked with took off and never paid me. That motivated me to work on my own.”
Now, many students walking by TCBY on MLK Boulevard and Lavaca Street have stopped to watch Ontiberos paint. The mural makes the building stand out more than it did before, radio-television-film junior Audrey Heitmann said.
“It seems more UT-friendly now,” Heitmann said. “The fact that they gave a student a chance to express his art reflects who they are as a company, and I appreciate that.”
Heitmann, who often parks near TCBY to walk to class, said she thinks the mural’s vibrant colors match Austin’s dynamic persona.
“It genuinely puts a smile on my face,” Heitmann said.
Ontiberos said reactions such as Heitmann’s make him feel accomplished. His ultimate goal is to take what he learns from his first solo mural and apply it to future art projects at school, then eventually to a master’s program at UT. He said he chose to stay in Austin while taking classes online because the people are so motivating.
“I feel UT is the center of many cultures,” Ontiberos said. “The students are so focused on their own thing. If I can take them out of their everyday routine with my art, maybe it will inspire them to create.”
After completing his mural, Ontiberos said he is ready to keep creating. He and Trub plan to make postcards and bumper stickers of the painting. Ontiberos said in his painting, he used unique colors to create a fantasized image of bats flying over Lady Bird Lake at sunset. He said he wants the mural to inspire tourists, locals and students alike to view their lives from a different perspective.
Overall, Ontiberos said he creates art to encourage people to explore their creativity and positivity, and — most importantly — to leave behind impactful work.
“Art has been something that I’ve done since I was little, and it’ll be something I do till I’m gone,” Ontiberos said. “It’s not much about career for me, it’s more of a conviction — something that will always be a part of me, for sure.”
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Lane Ontiberos' name. The Texan regrets this error.