Texas Connects Us: Romanian Artist Inspired By Texan Willie Nelson

Tucked behind stores at the northwest corner of Preston Road and Royal Lane in Dallas, you'll find an unexpected mural with an unexpected story.

For the last few weeks artist Dan Colcer has been battling the rain and the heat to complete the mural commissioned by the property owner.

Colcer grew up in the 1980s in Communist-controlled Romania.

"We, over there, in that moment, weren't tolerant — not even with ourselves," Colcer said. "It was hard for any form of culture to get in."

Colcer was exposed to only limited amounts of music and entertainment, but he vividly remembers the first time he saw a familiar Texan flash on the TV screen.

"He had long hair and blue jeans, and it was like 'ka-boom,'" Colcer said. "If you were like that over in Romania you'd be getting in big trouble."

That Texan was Willie Nelson.

"He was pretty much a symbol of freedom for me in that moment," Colcer said.

Three decades later, Colcer is now painting that early inspiration across a brick canvas. A huge profile of Willie Nelson covers the wall behind the nearby post office.

"It's just the way Willie speaks to everybody," Colcer said. "It's hard not to like him."

After immigrating to the United States in 2006, Colcer married a native Texan and fellow artist. The two make a living off their artwork and are now raising an 8-month-old son.

"No matter where you come from if you're ambitious, you can achieve," Colcer said.

He's now hoping his art might one day open someone else's eyes to become whoever they want to be — just like him and Willie.

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