The Northwest Branch Library held a public viewing and reception Saturday in honor of its two murals that were added during the library's modernization. The murals "Wild Horse Desert Habitat" and "Nueces River Valley Habitat" are located outside the library and were handmade by Ed and Cornelia Gates of Aloe Tile Works of Corpus Christi.

The 7-by-40-foot murals are in front and on the side of the library at 3202 McKenzie Road. The "Wild Horse Desert Habitat" describes the environment one would see from the area of Kingsville, looking toward Nueces County. The "Nueces River Valley Habitat" shows what one would see along the Nueces River up to San Antonio.

Aloe Tile Works is locally owned and operated by Ed and Cornelia Gates. Since 1994, they have been working together on murals, while focusing on hand-made ceramics and custom tile.

"It is more than just Cornelia and I designing these murals, there are other artists who work with us in bringing everything together," Ed said.

Generally, Ed does the clay mixing and Cornelia does the design. The clay that Aloe Tile Works utilizes comes from the rivers of Ohio and Georgia. The Gates mix their own colors.

"The art starts with a design and ideas and we work closely with the architects," Ed said. "Mathematics is also a very important factor. Birds, which are what both of the murals feature, have amazing color and they are incredible. Birds can teach us a lot."

"The murals project all started with the Building Committee selecting the theme of plants and birds," said Northwest Library branch manager Lynda Whitton. "Our love for children is what lent a hand in bringing this all together."

The $17,921 murals project started about a year ago and began with a request for proposals.

"I loved this project," Cornelia said. "The city of Corpus Christi's budget covered about half of the costs of the project and we covered the rest as a donation. We did this project on behalf of Friends of the Library and in honor of both our parents. We really like working with libraries and Ed and I both feel very strong on the importance of libraries, which is why we donated these murals."

"This is an outstanding, attractive library that is great for the children, as well as adults," Whitton said. "The plants and animals theme gets our kids touching, looking and learning about the art and work. The children are attracted to the artwork so they go over and look into it, they then check out a book about what they see and they gain knowledge about it. A library is not a museum, not an art gallery, but the art is outstanding for children and helps educating, and that is what we are here to do."

In October, the Northwest Branch Library celebrated its re-opening after a $2 million modernization enlarged the library from 7,000 square feet to 12,800 square feet, with a little more than 3,000 square feet dedicated toward the children's library.

"These murals are very nice. They remind me of when I went to the zoo and saw some amazing birds," said 9-year-old Reilly Gsanger of Windsor Park Elementary of Corpus Christi. "I hope to come back to this library again really soon."