Manuel Alvarado with one of his art pieces at San Eli's art district. (Kimberly Garcia/

Tales of Spanish conquistadores and Wild West gunslingers echo within San Eli’s adobe walls

SAN ELISARIO, TX – Tales of a bygone Spanish colonial era and the gun slinging Wild West echo inside the ancient adobe walls of buildings in this small town half-an-hour drive east of El Paso. Outside one of the ancient structures, now an art gallery, Manuel Alvarado, a tall, slender man happily greets curious visitors. “The reason I like San Eli is because it’s calm, not so hectic like a bigger city,” said Alvarado. San Elizario, or San Eli as it is known to locals, has undergone a change. With the help of local artist Al Borrego, San Elizario has established itself as an art district.

San Elizario’s unique revival gathers local history, gardening and hundreds of artists

SAN ELIZARIO, TX – There’s only one place in El Paso County where a family can see work by hundreds of artists, visit a veteran’s museum, get a homemade empanada at a café, see a live band at a restaurant that’s right next to the jail that once housed Billy the Kid, then walk a few blocks down the street to a community garden. This is the San Elizario Historic district, also known as “San Eli,” home to the only art district in the county, located about 10 miles east of the city limits. “We started this madness out here in 2009 with the Main Street Gallery and things just quickly grew,” said Al Borrego, a self-taught artist who invests most of his time promoting San Elizario and all the artists. “I take pride in my community and I think with the history and talent out here, it’s the perfect place for something like this.”

There are over 100 artists exhibiting their artwork in about 40 galleries, with more venues on the way. The artworks range from traditional acrylic and oil paintings, to iron and woodwork as well as sculptures, stained glass and jewelry.