Javier Arreguin paints a mural during the Blues on Reid event in March. [ Wendy Weitzel | The Star ]
| | | |

Artist on a mission to ‘visually diversify’ Port St. Joe

Javier Arreguin sees Port St. Joe’s blank walls as opportunities.

On them, in bright spray paint, he has the ability to tell not only the story of those who have lived here and know this community like the back of their hand, but also his own story — one in which he is discovering the Forgotten Coast with new, artistically-inclined eyes.

Arreguin, who moved to Port St. Joe from San Diego a little more than a year ago, has already established himself as one of the town’s premier mural artists. And the longer he says, the larger his colorful visual footprint grows.

“The first one that I did was outside of Quatro Locos, my family’s restaurant, and that one was inspired a little by this place, with the deity for the rain. I kind of wanted to mix a little bit of where we’re from and our past with where we are now,” he said.

“… And then after that one, The Sand Dollar (Cafe) asked me for one, and then it just kept going from there.”

Javier Arreguin poses in front of a mural he painted with Miguel Posk Montaño Martínez at Dagwood’s Delicatessen in Port St. Joe [ Wendy Weitzel | The Star ]

Arreguin grew up in Aztec City, a smaller city outside of Mexico City, before moving to San Diego a little more than a decade ago.

He completed three years towards his studio arts degree, and he is well-versed in various style of painting, but he has always had a connection to spray paint.

“Growing up, I would see kids spray painting in the alleys a lot. That was the way they expressed themselves, not with brushes or traditional mediums…”

Using different tips on spray paint cans, he is able to mimic brush strokes, and the effect has caught the eye of many locals.

Arreguin has painted about a dozen publicly viewable murals around town, as well as some in surrounding areas.

The artist’s inspiration, he said, is largely based on the image the town projects to the outside world. 

“Sometimes people will come up to me when I’m early into doing a mural and ask me if I am doing graffiti, and I always say no, that I like those kinds of things, but not in this context,” he said.

“I like to make sure what I create is respectful of the town and of the people who have lived here their whole lives.”

But Arreguin still finds room for implementing his observations.

“At the same time,” he continued, “I am essentially a traveler in this town. I am still learning about this place, and I like to include in my art pieces of the surroundings that stand out to me, like herons, which we don’t have on the West Coast, or turtles, which I love.”

Javier Arreguin’s mural outside the Sand Dollar Cafe in Port St. Joe [ Melissa Watson ]

Arreguin also is sure to blend in his own distinct artistic style whenever possible too, which he said can be seen in large painted eyes or edgier touches.

Now, Arreguin said, what initially started as a means of beautifying his family’s restaurant has turned into a way the artist can leave his mark on the town and introduce elements of his culture.

Last October, Arreguin hosted a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at the Joe Center of the Arts, introducing the Mexican holiday and its customs that he has vivid memories of growing up to the local community.

And Arreguin plans to have help painting Port St. Joe’s blank walls. In March, his friend and a prominent Mexico-City-based artist Miguel Posk Montaño Martínez visited Port St. Joe to help Arreguin with some of his mural work. 

“I see myself expanding and bringing three other international artists here,” he said. “I’m trying to get walls now, asking people with big walls if they’re interested, because there people are more experienced than me, and I feel like I could learn a lot from them.”

“But also, it will help to visually diversify the town and continue to show the beauty of this place.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.