Trade and Talent: Nelson Saldana Works as a Mechanic, Speaks as an Artist

On weekdays, Nelson Saldana works as a truck mechanic at Thermo King on Ballard Street. On Saturdays, he reigns as Chelsea’s “Magnificent Muralist.”

Saldana is becoming an artistic sensation in his hometown of Chelsea, where his most recent work of art is attracting hundreds of visits daily to the downtown district on Broadway.

Nelson Saldana is pictured in front of his latest artwork, a “We Are 1” mural in downtown Chelsea.

The 32-year-old artist first attracted the attention of Chelsea officials for previous large-scale murals he composed for another area of the city.

Those initial works in the city were so awe-inspiring that he was invited to participate in this summer’s “Chelsea Prospers” project.

“They have continued to reach out to me to do more work and this was the next one on the list,” he said humbly.

The theme for his current project is “We Come Together As One” and Saldana has portrayed the message in impressive fashion.

In the mural, Saldana centered “We Are 1” between the continents of North America and Africa. He drew bodies of water in blue.

“I tried to make it like a globe, but not too much,” he said. “We are one and that means the community coming together as one.”

Saldana, whose family is originally from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, said he has been an artist “my whole life.”

“But I’ve been working more in public the last 2-3 years, displaying my art in galleries and things like that,” said Saldana.

Saldana’s artistic talents are known among fellow employees at Thermo King. “I’ve done a few portraits for some of my co-workers,” he said. “I would love to branch out to Lynn. I know the city has some great murals.”

Saldana graduated from Chelsea High School in 2007 and then attended trade school where he learned mechanics.

Nelson and his wife, Yesenia Saldana, have three children, Aliyah Saldana, who just graduated from Northeast Regional High School, Ivan Saldana, 3, and Melody Saldana, 1. Nelson’s proud mother is Evelyn Rivera.

Asked about the wide attention he is receiving for his artwork, Saldana shrugged off the hometown fame.

 “I’m an all-around artist,” said Saldana. “I paint, I do murals, I do anything. My strength is my creativity. Hand me something to create with and I’ll make something with it.”

Mimi Graney, coordinator of “Chelsea Prospers,” said that Saldana has a unique way of delivering an inspirational message through his work.

“I really love his style,” said Graney. “He’s a really sweet guy and I love that he’s bringing together a message in the art that he is doing. It’s not just a great design, but it is actually communicating something. This mural was a subtle way of communicating a racial justice message without being so explicit.”

Graney has already contacted Saldana about being a part of the next big art project in Chelsea. Saldana will be involved in the design and painting of tabletops and stools adjacent to a major landmark in Chelsea Square later this summer.

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