Thursday morning was the first time my walk up the Mission Reach to what I call the “crayola footbridge” was “legal.” The San Antonio River Authority officially has opened the segment originating by Roosevelt Park to the impatient public; although the landscaping still resembles a moonscape and will until spring. The hillside adjacent to the crenulated footbridge currently is planted with wooden stakes – a garden of “onesies.”
Two weeks ago, I bumped into Mike Addkison who is the project director for the San Antonio River Foundation’s riverside art installations, and he shared a rendering illustrating artist Mark Schelsinger’s vision for the footbridge when finished.
Mike also provided a more sophisticated rationale for the project than my 64-colors-in-a-box-encounters-dull-castle-walls-in-a-coloring-book theory:
The vibrant colors are a reference to both the cascaron (symbol of good luck) and to the natural world. Although seemingly abstract, Mark’s piece is inspired by the amazing variety of strategies employed by flora and fauna to survive. Plants and animals use bold color and, in rare instances, bio-luminescence to attract, repel, communicate and differentiate themselves in our natural world.
By using vibrant color and luminescence for this footbridge, Mark imagines what a bridge might look like if it were alive and wanted and needed to draw people across it, for its very survival. It’s that dynamic vibrancy during the day that hints at the uniqueness of the project at night.
The potential for evening interactivity is fantastic. Each of the 8 glowing blocks becomes a ‘canvas’ for children and adults to paint and draw on with light. The images last for a few minutes and then you have a clean slate to work on again. As there will be no trail lighting in-channel, we think people will be carrying flashlights when they use the trail in the evenings and each of these lights can become a potential paint-brush for temporary creativity!
Update Added on December 19: Express-News story about the soft opening of the new stretch of the Mission Reach
Update Added on June 26, 2011: Schlesinger seems to have rejected crayola footbridge as the title in favor of “UP on the ON.” But that still sounds like “Once upon a time….,” inspiring families to invent colorful stories centering around the crayola footbridge.