New community mural honoring Asian-American, Pacific Heritage unveiled in Houston's Asiatown

A new reason to visit Houston's Asiatown was unveiled Saturday. A Vietnamese non-profit teamed up with a local artist to honor Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage through the area's first community mural.

Where businesses have closed and some targeted hate during the pandemic, the new mural titled "Longevity" is more than just artwork.

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"Over here we have wind scraping, very common in Vietnam, China, all the southeast Asian countries," explains artist Thomas Tran.

The 25-year-old from Alief took the project’s theme "Heritage and Community Health" to new heights with the nearly two-story painting off Bellaire Boulevard, facing the H Mart Grocery Store.

Saturday morning’s unveiling was attended by contributing organizations and public officials celebrating the largest work in Asiatown and its first mural depicting the array of representation in the area.

"This area, and really the whole city of Houston, is such a melting pot," says Theresa Trinh, Executive Board President of the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association.


"This Asiatown area consists of so many different Asian cultures, not just Vietnamese as I am. But on this mural, you’ll see a depiction of the Korean culture, the Filipino culture, and also the south Asian cultures," she adds.

The Vietnamese Culture and Science Association funded most of the $10,000 project through grant money in partnership with Houston In Action and the Houston Arts Alliance. To complete the project, VCSA called on Houstonians to use Tran’s plan to have volunteers "paint by the numbers" by picking a color and filling in the assigned pieces. More than 200 people signed up. For days, crews worked 4 p.m. until midnight until the mural was finished in less than a week.

The mural’s Asian-American Pacific Islander themes extend to other cultures as well. There's the pictured Vietnamese eucalyptus oil, a "cure-all" Tran says is an inside joke that mothers and grandmothers use on any ailment. Also, the longing for acceptance is depicted with a father and son embrace that Tran says touches on strained relationships between American kids and their immigrant parents.

"Maybe this kid was coming out or wants to pursue arts instead of engineering - this is maybe like the happy ending to a tough conversation," he says.


Local leaders say one goal of the project is to bring more cultures together by opening up about shared experiences, including discrimination.

"The way we react against it is to join each other - for the Asian community to support the Black community. For the Black community to support the Hispanic community, and so on and so forth," says Gene Wu, State Representative of District 137. "We will get through this together."

He says the mural is also an invitation for others to get to know Asiatown just as much as their own neighborhoods. 

"I think this is a welcome sign, a love letter to the rest of Houston saying, ‘come and see how beautiful this is; come and see our community," says Wu.