Mother-Son Duo Are Painting “Big” in H-Town

Roger Munford

April 2022

Muralists Sylvia Roman and her son, Alex Roman Jr., may be better known by their tags, Donkeemom and Donkeeboy. Together they’ve collaborated on more than thirty murals for clients, including sports giants like the Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, and the UFC, as well as prominent companies like Bosch, Fender, Jameson, and Porsche. The pair were also featured on Kelly Clarkson’s daytime talk show in 2020, when they unveiled their George Floyd mural in Houston’s Third Ward.

An early photo of mother and son.

Donkeemom and Donkeyboy have created several art projects for Midway, whose goal is to make its communities remarkable with impactful works of art. Donkeeboy’s out-of-this-world astronaut mural, created in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, can be viewed in the GreenStreet district in the heart of downtown. The pair also contributed to two art pop-ups Midway held at GreenStreet, one of which showcased an impactful immersive exhibition by Donkeeboy and the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) to bring awareness to mental illness in the community. They also contributed to the public art project “Art of Soccer,” designing and painting a three-foot fiberglass soccer ball, which toured Midway’s GreenStreet and CITYCENTRE, promoting the Houston 2026 World Cup. Last summer, the pair created a mural at GreenStreet called “Bike Through H-Town,” which encourages more people to join the city’s recent bike boom.

“I learned it all by watching my mom,”

“I learned it all by watching my mom,” says Alex of his inspiration. “When I got a little older, in my teens and early 20s, I started trying to have art shows. My brother bought me an airbrush and I’d paint friend’s rooms at their houses, just for practice—that’s how I got the bug. It was fun, painting big.”

The dynamic duo.

Mom and son created their first mural at Sylvia’s house in 2005, but they never finished it. “She sold the house and that was that,” Alex says. “And then my brother passed, and that brought my mom and me together even more—that’s when we both decided to do something with this art thing.”

When they started painting murals together, it was 100 percent what the client wanted, notes Alex. “Now we meet somewhere in the middle as they trust us with their brand and then we can explore,” he explains. “And then we have also created work that’s not paid—we’ll just find a wall and paint whatever we want.”

Alex's mural at GreenStreet.

How do they collaborate? 

“Sometimes my mom has a project that’s just hers, and I help her out, and vice versa,” Alex adds. “And sometimes the client just says ‘You guys do whatever you want,’ and that’s when my mom gets the last word. But you know what, the majority of the time she’s right.” 

After a friendly nudge from his mother, her son laughs, “Actually she’s right all of the time.”

Using a mix of Montana 94 spray paint and Behr house paint, the family muralists expect their street art to be good for five-to-seven years. And they both like the permanence of that, how it becomes part of the neighborhood.

“There are so many ways murals can inspire somebody,” Alex says.

“I think the world is so much better when it’s full of color.”