Grandson of El Paso's 'Sandman' shares memories of Alberto Avila

    El Paso man known as the Sandman has been creating images with sand on streets for years. (Credit: KFOX14)

    The funeral for beloved Alberto “Sandman” Avila is underway Monday.

    Avila became well known and loved across not only the Borderland, but in Southern California as well.

    His artwork consisted of two things: sand and broom.

    His grandson, Joshua Zermeno, said his grandpa never even considered being an artist, but one day he got a calling.

    “He was in a park full of trash, abandoned. He heard a voice which he says was God or an angel telling him to pick up the trash and create something,” Zermeno said.

    “Sandman” made his own way by working along the beaches in San Diego many years ago. He moved back to El Paso around five years ago and hit the El Paso streets, creating his art.

    He would pick up trash, sand or rocks and compile them together. Really anything that seemed like trash he took and made art. “He just followed his heart and his passion and he wanted to make people smile everyday. He didn’t really feel comfortable with what he was doing early in his life. It wasn’t until he let everything go. He always said the day he passes would be the day his job is done. That he fulfilled it and I thoroughly believe with the number of people he’s touched and how far his reach his, he did his job,” Zermeno says.

    The family would like to see his work become something permanent in El Paso. “Maybe something like a memorial or something that people would pass everyday and be like aware that was the Sandman. He put a smile on my face everyday, and when they see his art, they’ll hopefully get a smile on their face like he did.”

    The viewing is Monday at Crestview Funeral Home at 1462 Zaragoza Road from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. A vigil is also scheduled for 7 p.m.

    The mass will be Tuesday at St. Pius at 10 a.m. followed by internment at Evergreen Cemetery at 4301 Alameda Avenue.

    Avila died Wednesday.

    CBS4 would like to share your pictures and videos of Avila in our newscasts and on to share with others what he was known for.

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