Almost time to walk that walk….

This is a sequel to “Can’t wait to walk that walk….,” which should be read first if you want to have a better idea of the new stretch of in-the-middle-of-the-river pathways to which I refer.

But first, to continue over-hyphenating before switching to incomplete sentences, this definitely qualified as one of those if-you-don’t-live-in-San-Antonio-I-feel-sorry-for-you mornings. Incredibly beautiful. The sky and river amazingly blue. The water so clear you could see the crawdads scurrying and fish swimming around the baseball left to drown after a home run hit by a Brackenridge Eagle. Don’t think it was Rodriguez. If so, the coach forgot because the only sound interrupting the birds’ songs was the coach barking from above at Rodriguez for forgetting the rest of the team.

The water birds perched upon the power plant spillway found such easy prey they forgot to be territorial over their fishing grounds. A hold-on-tightly-to-your-chihuahua-sized hawk was perched majestically high in a tree by Lone Star, the orphaned younger sibling of Pearl crying out to Kit: “Adopt me, too.” (Please do.) The crayola footbridge shimmered in the morning light, and green (although much of it probably not the much-wanted natives) sprouted all along the river’s banks, an emerald green not there a mere 48 hours earlier.

Which, of course, was the morning I had camera in hand. That morning was overcast. And, unfortunately, aside from one of the removal of the temporary dams that I was able to snap before my smartphone reminded its stupid owner that it needed charging, those are the photos I am posting. But it doesn’t matter because the project linking the San Antonio River Authority to Blue Star is so exciting, even on a cloudy day, and almost ready for walking.

The photograph of the telephone pole sticking straight out of the already-too-narrow sidewalk straddling the Alamo Street Bridge by Blue Star illustrates the obvious need for a project I had no idea was on the funded-horizon until last week’s meeting of the King William Association. Two million dollars from the Venue Tax is funding a new construction phase managed by the River Authority that will transform Alamo from four lanes to two plus a turn lane, allowing for widening the sidewalk. A new stone river crossing will link the two banks of the river, so the pathway on the King William side will no longer be a deadend. This path will be improved and stretch along the river from just below the Alamo Street Bridge to the park at Constance and Crofton Streets. On the Big Tex/Blue Star side, picnic areas will be added, as well as an art walk with several portals featuring seating and sculpture.

Can’t wait to walk that walk either.

Update on March 17: Love the news this morning about the generous donation of land Kathleen and Curtis Gunn have made to protect the missions and to link them to the Mission Reach of the river project. Also had to post the photo above of the first bluebonnets and redbonnets? popping into bloom near the Power Plant on the Mission Reach.

Update on March 23: Biking that walk will soon be an option for those of us who live in lofts with no room to store bikes of their own. Yesterday morning, a city crew was hard at work installing a bike rack for a Bike Share station at Blue Star (see photo above).

Update on April 6, 2011: The dams are removed, and water once again fills the river bed and, for the first time, cascades over the newly laid rocks of the water feature between Guenther and Alamo. Looks about ready for walking to me, but we must be waiting for some sort of speechifying formalities.

Update on April 28, 2011: Significant-sized trees are being planted below Blue Star Arts Complex today….

Update on May 11, 2011: They were carting in the missing pieces of railing this morning…. Must be time to open.

Update on May 24, 2011: Finally got to walk that walk this morning! Paseo del Rio finally is linked to the southside for walks on the wildflower side.

Preserving the Art of ‘Papel Picado’

The American translation I grew up with is hardly picturesque – brightly colored plastic triangles strung along roadways, noisily flapping in the breeze in vain attempts to motivate you to “stop here for gas” or “trade in your car today.”  But, as with many humble or utilitarian objects in Mexico, banners were elevated to a form of art and signified celebrations important to the community.  Papel picado, or punched paper, artists use hammer and chisel to punch designs out of stacks of up to 40 layers of tissue at a time.

As part of the San Antonio Conservation Society’s celebration of Historic Preservation Month, a display of papel picado, or punched paper, by artist Kathleen Trenchard is on exhibit in the Visitors Center of The Steves Homestead.  While her work includes traditional papel picado banners, Kathleen’s contemporary interpretation of the art form includes portraits, buildings and major public art installations – at the AT&T Center, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center and the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  Kathleen also designed the official Fiesta pin for the Conservation Society’s major fundraiser, A Night in Old San Antonio, or NIOSA.

The legendary printmaker and satirical cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) created his oft-reproduced “La Calavera Catrina” to satirize the lifestyle of the upper class in Mexico in the late 1800s.  In one of the works on exhibit at the Steves’ Visitors Center, Kathleen crafts a skeletal “self-portrait” as a dancing partner of La Catrina.  

“Portraits” of architectural landmarks featured in the exhibit include the Bexar County Courthouse, the Japanese Tea Garden, the silos at Blue Star and the Pig Stand.  The one must suitable for the cause of preservation follows the satirical style of Posada:  “Demolition:  1123 Brooklyn.”

In recognition of her artistic perpetuation of this form of Mexican folk art, the Conservation Society will bestow its Lynn Ford Craftsman Award upon Kathleen at its Historic Preservation Awards Dinner on Friday, May 14.  The Conservation Society established the award in 1978 in honor of Lynn Ford, a craftsman, cabinetmaker, builder and teacher.

Preserving the Art of Papel Picado will be on display at the Visitors Center located behind The Edward Steves Homestead and House Museum, 509 King William Street, through June.  The Visitors Center and Museum are open daily, but hours vary depending on scheduled tours.  For more information, telephone 210.225.5924.

Tickets for the Conservation Society’s Awards Dinner are $75 for individuals or $600 for a table of eight.  For reservations, telephone 210.224.6163.  To find out information about other Preservation Month activities, visit www.saconservation.org.

So what could the “prodigious poster” learn from a form of art where what is eliminated paints the picture?  Cut.

Added on May 3:  Great article on the area of Puebla known for papel amate