COMMENTARY: An Invitation to Flower Shop Residency’s First Exhibition, “Art is Short for Artifact”

Words by Jesus Treviño

Flower Shop Art Residency during the “Seeds of Gathering” group pop-up exhibition at UTRGV’s Rusteberg Gallery.

The seed of this project was planted with my mural proposal for the city of Brownsville, “Where Seeds Bloom.” Referencing labor paintings of the 60s and 70s, the proposal depicted a person bending over and planting seeds in the soil. Images of the notable/historic city sites, people graduating and enjoying Charro Days festivities, etc., were then blooming from that seed planter. It spoke to the backbreaking work it takes to cultivate a future, keep history alive, and commemorate those who have come before, allowing us to prosper and enjoy the life we have today. 

The most rewarding part of that experience was reading and being told how much that proposal and sentiment resonated with so many of you. It became abundantly clear, through those personal testimonies, how important art is for a community. It allows us to share our experiences, inspire self-reflection, new ways of thinking, and learn from each other. This, to me, is the core of being a human— Finding ways to grow, heal, and enrich our lives. From these sentiments, Frontera Arts in Bloom and the Flower Shop were born.

With the help of my father, Jesus Gabriel Trevino, I was able to start a nonprofit organization to find ways to fund an artist-in-residence program in Brownsville, Texas. The goal of organizing the Flower Shop Art Residency was to bring artists from other places to Brownsville to share their art practices and perspectives with us. Giving the community more access to art could facilitate growth and enrichment, which I didn’t know I needed until leaving for grad school. I credit conversations with my friends Maritza Bautista and Rigoberto Luna, two incredibly driven and passionate people I deeply admire, and their work for their respective communities in Laredo and San Antonio, Texas, for inspiring me to pursue this project.

I’ve also been so fortunate to have like-minded, passionate people surround and guide me during this process. In addition, Leslie Ann Barrientos and Cecilia Sierra have brought so much to the table with abundant ideas, energy, and enthusiasm. They have done so much to help shape and define what the flower shop has become, and I’m so grateful to have them in my corner, especially as we hosted our inaugural residency cycle in October 2023.

Flower Shop Art Residency during their live screen printing fundraiser hosted at 7th and Park.
Flower Shop Art Residency during their live screen printing fundraiser hosted at 7th and Park. Artists listed from left to right: Leslie Barrientos, Gil Rocha, Cecilia Sierra, Melly Hinojosa, Jesus Treviño, and Ray Madrigal.

With the support from Trucha and in-kind donations from so many community members, we hosted four incredible artists in our space. Ray Madrigal, a Chicago-based artist originally from Sacramento, CA, Laredo-based artist Gil Rocha, and Brownsville artists Leslie Barrientos and Emily Hinojosa inhabited the Flower Shop to live together, experience Brownsville and create work together in a space that can be shared with the community.


After an incredible residency cycle full of public programming, such as an exhibition and artist talks hosted at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a fundraiser event hosted at 7th and Park, who generously donated gift cards and HEB cards to our residents, and excursions throughout the Valley, we will be having the capstone of the program this Friday, November 3rd. It’s the culmination of the artist’s time here in the form of an art exhibition and experience titled “Art is Short for Artifact,” featuring work shaped by their experience.

Flyer for Flower Shop Art Residency’s upcoming exhibition, “Art is Short for Artifact.”

The role of seed planter, from my mural proposal, is not a one-person job but an ongoing effort by many people together. By assuming that role, I have tapped into a legacy amongst others with similar missions/goals for our home along the border. I feel so proud of what our team and our supporters have been able to accomplish together through this residency. I am so lucky for the bonds that have been formed, and I can’t wait to share that with all of you this Friday and to do it all again for years to come.

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