Their handprints symbolize the mark they made and, for some, continue to make on San Antonio. The founders of the San Antonio Women’s Pavilion, which opened in time for HemisFair ’68, left their imprints in tiles designed by Ethel Wilson Harris on a back wall of the pavilion designed by architect Cyrus Wagner. Writing in San Antonio Current, Jessica Ramos described the building:
The 12,000-square-foot, four-level building’s most eye-catching traits include the city’s tradition of masonry infused with ’60s-inpired open spaces, Mexican brick, hand-carved doors by Lynn Ford, and modulated lighting that includes skylights, clerestories, wooden grills, and Martha Mood ceramic fixtures. One can squeeze into any nook of the building and still have a view of all of its levels.
Grassroots fundraising efforts made the original construction of the pavilion, dedicated to the contributions of the women to the world, possible. Ramos wrote:
(Sherry Kafka) Wagner and other prominent San Antonio women, including Nellie Connally, wife of Governor John Connally, Edith McAllister, Mary Denman, Patricia Galt Steves, and Bertha Gonzalez, wife of Congressman Henry B., organized a bottom-up campaign with the intention of showcasing women’s achievements in art, science, business, and government. They hosted coffee parties to finance the exhibition. One coffee klatch seeded hundreds, and soon, more than 8,000 women from 49 states and 14 countries became members by donating funds — as little as $1 apiece — to build the pavilion. What began as plans for a temporary exhibition space soon flourished with an organized wave of support. The word-of-mouth movement attracted other organizations, which donated thousands of dollars in grants to build a permanent structure.
“You have to remember, this was before the women’s movement,” said Wagner, “this was huge.”
Today’s board of directors of the Women’s Pavilion, including Wagner, are resorting to grassroots efforts again to restore the building as part of the city’s revitalization plans for HemisFair Park.
This is late notice for one of the ways you can help this Saturday. Drop by the AIA’s Center for Architecture at Pearl Brewery any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to help cut out bags from recycled convention banners. According to the Express-News:
Volunteers cut the tote bag and banner patterns, created by local designer and store owner Kathleen Sommers, from the vinyl banners. Those pieces are then delivered to La Fuerza Unida, a sewing cooperative and social justice organization, to be sewn…. Last year, La Fuerza Unida sewed 206 pieces for the Women’s Pavilion. All the items sold within two hours of the group’s first sale in November.
If it’s too late for you to go tomorrow, mark your calendar for August 21.
The colorful bags and aprons sell from $32 to $46 and represent a great fundraising tool, but, with $12 million to secure for the renovation project, more than that is needed. So the Women’s Pavilion is looking for helping hands of another kind as well for the Artful Legacy Project. Each donor of $500 will have a scanned image of her hand and her name engraved into a glass tile. In collaboration with artists Gini Garcia and Kay Lorraine, the resulting wall installed adjacent to the pavilion will be illuminated at night with fiber optic lights that change colors.
The board of the Women’s Pavilion is a creative and determined one. Current quotes member Ginger Purdy:
Before I leave this planet, I am going to bring that building back to life.
P.S. Don’t forget to bail Gayle out of jail!