The murals of Hector Ponce – the painter of Pacoima – adorn the “mural mile” with other greats, including his son and daughter. But one in particular is personal for him.
He painted Mexican legend Vicente Fernández, now forever leaving a mark on a stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard.
“He born in el pueblo, and he sings for the pueblo, too, so he’s the hijo del pueblo," he said.
As a small-town guy, Ponce said he sees the connection between his poor upbringing and Fernández’s. This mural is a labor of love.
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"And I do it for free because the people of this barrio don’t have money to pay a lot of money for the mural, so I brought Vicente Fernández because he is the king," he said.
Fernández died Sunday at 81 years old. But his impact on Mexican culture and beyond will not die with him, fans say.
"He’s the heart of ranchero music and we want to keep up with that style. I love that style," Roy Welch said.
At his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Monday, flowers from the Hollywood Chamber for the man who for 20 years held the record for the most fans to attend a star ceremony.
"We were shocked at the amount of people that showed up. He had 4,000 people show up to his star ceremony!" Ana Martinez of the Hollywood Walk of fame said.
Overnight, fans left flowers for a memorial that continues to grow.
"He was always there for every occasion, sad or happy, he’s there," fan Ivan Vasquez said.
Fan Elizabeth Ascencio couldn’t make it to Hollywood, but didn’t have to go far to remember the man she saw as a grandfather figure.
The mural in Pacoima: a symbol of pride, she says, for her Mexican roots.
"So he’s part of our family," she said.
“I feel powerful because he’s part of us, me siento agradecida por ser Mexicano and I feel like I’m home. Even though I’m not home, I feel at home.”