California-based artist John Cerney installed this mural of Uvalde native Dale Evans in October. The cutout of the late singer-songwriter and actress stands at 18 feet tall.

Our state is full of novelties, many of which have a peculiar story of how they came to be on their particular bend of the road—and we’re on a quest to tell them all. Is there a roadside oddity you want to know more about? Tell us what you think we should investigate next.

Uvalde has a new welcome committee. Its members stand along US 90, greeting drivers passing through the Hill Country town. They’re a friendly group of smiling familiar faces, but don’t expect a wave or hello—as giant highway art, they’re pretty wooden.

Mural Locations

Matthew McConaughey
Intersection of US 90
and Hacienda Road/FM 2369

Los Palominos
Chamber of Commerce/
Convention & Visitors Bureau
300 E. Main St.

Dale Evans
Uvalde County Fairplex
215 Veterans Lane

Last October, Uvalde unveiled its new roadside attractions, three freestanding murals featuring some of the town’s most-notable native sons and daughter: actor Matthew McConaughey, Tejano band Los Palominos, and late Western film star-singer Dale Evans.

Next to each mural is a sign with their most-famous expression or song. McConaughey’s sign is in the shape of a movie set clapper and has his catchphrase “alright, alright, alright.” Evans’ sign, bordered like a lasso, highlights “Happy Trails,” the duet she sang with her husband Roy Rogers. And Los Palominos’ mural, composed of the original four Arreola brothers who founded the group, spotlights their Grammy-winning album, Por Eso Te Amo. (See sidebar for locations.)

If the style of the murals looks familiar that’s because it’s the work of John Cerney, the California-based artist whose signature “giant cut-out art” can be found in rural communities throughout the United States, including Texas. You can see his ­­Giant murals featuring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor on US 90 in Marfa, and his shopper murals at San Antonio’s “King of Bargains” Mission Open Air Market.

Kelly Faglie, a businessowner and member of Uvalde’s Economic Development Board, came up with the idea for the Uvalde murals after seeing Cerney’s Cowboy Ruckus on a road trip in New Mexico three years ago. She noticed he has a following his Instagram. “People purposely go and seek his artwork,” she says. Thinking her hometown could use a tourism boost, she reached out to the artist. “We wanted to get at least one mural up. I would’ve never guessed in a million years we would have three.”

Los Palominos are a Grammy-winning Tejano band that resides in Uvalde.

After that initial contact, the project had to be put on hold when the community experienced the worst school shooting in state history on May 24, 2022. Nineteen students and two educators were killed at Robb Elementary School. Faglie waited several months before revisiting the mural project last year. She got approval from the city council and secured a $25,000 budget covered by the Hotel Occupancy Tax. Local businesses donated materials, equipment, and services for the installation of the murals, and a homeowner offered Cerney a place to stay when he came to install them. “Everybody got behind this,” Faglie says. “The city got behind it. The county got behind it. It really was a large group of people that made this happen.”

At his studio in Salinas, California, Cerney, who estimates he’s done between 400 and 500 murals, worked from photos sent to him by Faglie, who got input from the wife of one of the band members and Evans’ former manager. (She reached out to McConaughey’s publicist for a photo but ran out of time and ended up choosing one she liked. “They better be glad I didn’t get a Magic Mike picture,” she says.)

Actor Matthew McConaughey was born and raised in Uvalde.

The solo figures took seven to 10 days to complete; the more-detailed Los Palominos image, with the members wearing plaid shirts and holding musical instruments, took about three weeks. Cerney then packed his trailer and drove the 1,600-odd miles to Uvalde. “That’s my favorite part, my little mini vacations driving to wherever I’m going,” he says.

At 18 feet, Dale Evans is the tallest he’ll go. McConaughey and Los Palominos stand at 17 and 12 feet, respectively. And they’re not meant to last forever: Heat and moisture break down the plywood canvas, so the lifespan of a mural is usually eight to 12 years.

When it came to placing the Uvalde cut-outs, Faglie knew she wanted McConaughey to be the official town greeter on the east side, which receives travelers from San Antonio. Evans was placed at the Uvalde County Fairplex and the band members serve as ambassadors at the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Currently, Cerney is completing more murals for his Giant installation in Marfa. “I’m adding a cowboy on a horse herding cattle and creating a giant gushing oilwell for the scene,” he says. “I’ll go back to Texas when the weather is decent for me to install it.”

The Uvalde murals missed the annular solar eclipse in October, but they’re in place for April’s total solar eclipse (the town is in the path of totality), and they’re ready for the World Gliding Championship coming up in August. “We’ll have a lot of people around the world coming to our community,” Faglie says. And she’s not done yet: She wants each town between San Antonio and Marfa on US 90 to get a cut-out. “A highway of John Cerney murals,” she says.

At 70, Cerney told her she better hurry up.

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