Clementine Prayed Over the Queso, acyrlic on metal, 10 in. x 8 in., 2014
I will forever be Team Ninfa's, but Felix had the better sign.
Featured above is my entry for Lawndale Art Center's 27th Annual Dia de los Muertos retablo exhibit, an offering in memory of the queso at the legendary Felix Mexican Restaurant.
Felix Tijerna opened six of his namesake restaurants across Houston. The last holdout was on Montrose and Westheimer, but it finally closed in 2008. Thanks to the thougtful folks at El Real, a relatively recent addtion to Houston's Tex-Mex scene, many Felix artifacts were saved, including the hand-painted chairs (the bottom half of my retablo is a reference to those chairs). Unfortunately, though, the sign couldn't be saved. It was dismantled and sold in pieces on eBay.
The good news is that the Felix sign has a twin over in Richmond, Texas. Felix Tijerna helped open Larry's Mexian Restaurant in the 1960s, where an identical neon beacon still stands.
More good news: You can still get Felix-style queso at El Patio.
Head over to Lawndale on Thursday, October 24, for their annual gala and retablo silent auction, where you can bid on—and hopefully take home—my Felix painting. All proceeds from the auction benefit Lawndale and its programs. If you can't make the gala, you can preview the exhibit Monday, October 20, though Wednesday, October 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.