Viewing San Antonio through a Spaniard’s eyes

Murals by Spanish artist Daniel Munoz, or SAN, transform window frames bricked in long ago on the back of the former home of the Beethoven Maennerchor in Hemisfair into points of interest. SAN peered into the city’s past and how it contributes to the city of today in recognition of the San Antonio’s Tricentennial. The mural on the back of what is now Magik Theatre was commissioned by the city’s Public Art Department and Luminaria working in conjunction with Ink and Movement in Madrid.

These cellphone snaps represent a small sampling of SAN’s images. Love the way he captured the man peering into the dime store to represent the impending desegregation of the lunch counter in San Antonio; four Blacks broke a major color barrier when they were served there on March 16, 1960. Wonder if the muralist knew the 97-year-old former Woolworth’s, regarded as a landmark in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, is endangered by the current version of the Alamo Comprehensive Interpretive Plan. The building’s significance for the community is obvious even to someone from another country.

 

Morning art walk through the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

Seriously. We walked on the river yesterday morning into downtown, along the River Extension, into the Convention Center Lagoon with its stunning 1968 mosaic murals by Juan O’Gorman and Carlos Merida and then turned left into the actual Convention Center itself.

A convention center seems an unlikely destination for locals, but we wanted to explore the City of San Antonio’s exhibition combining some things old and many new works in celebration of our Tricentennial, “Confluence: Art in the Convention Center.”

We wandered around the myriad of halls and multiple levels of the expansive center on a scavenger hunt for art, a hunt enhanced by the fact we had no clues where we would find the pieces. This added an entertaining touch of serendipity to our quest, but the Department of Arts & Culture does have a cheat sheet online locating the artworks for those who prefer to spend less time lost in the amazing maze of meeting spaces.

While we went for the art, the architectural design of the center itself, reconfigured in 2017 to eliminate its dated frumpiness, is worth meandering through. MarmonMok has created an award-winning facility that gives San Antonians one more reason to be proud to call this home.

Let me know if you spot Ken Little’s cast-iron pair of shoes, “Victory and Defeat.” We missed them completely. We saw Little last night fronting Rodeo Ho Ho at the Liberty Bar, and he said he was not sure he could find his way back to them either. He did offer a clue; they are parked in front of a window.

Playspace of Yanaguana Garden bursts into bloom October 2

A spiraling “Blue Hole” at the center of Oscar Alvarado’s elongated serpentine mosaic bench is one of many features defining a sense of place in the soon-to-be-unveiled Yanaguana Garden at the southeast corner of Hemisfair. The Blue Hole north of Brackenridge Park is the spring feeding the river in the land native Payaya Indians referred to as Yanaguana.

Opening to the public the weekend of October 2, Yanaguana Garden is an admission-free playscape for young and old with water features for splashing, swings of all types, giant chess boards, a bocce court, pingpong tables, benches for sitting, a sandbox for crafting drip castles, “trees” for climbing and actual mature trees for shading. The springy base cushioning the areas under climbing structures is amazingly soft to walk across.

The engaging interactive public art created by a team of San Antonio artists led by Stuart Allen carries out the playful theme, including playhouses, metal puptents by Joey Fauerso, Allen’s how-to-build-a-kite bench, Jen Khoshbin’s stage for plays and a sound installation by Justin Boyd. These touch-me works of art were administered by Public Art San Antonio (PASA) with funds provided by the 2012-2017 bond program.

All of these elements are nestled respectfully among historic homes, remnants of the original neighborhood eliminated by HemisFair ’68. These are being repurposed to weave a portion of the fabric that will form a new neighborhood as Hemisfair continues to evolve.

Design for the playscape fell under the guidance of landscape architect Susan Goltsman, president of MIG. Based in Berkeley, California, the design firm prides itself for building inclusive environments.

For those who are not within walking distance of this new addition to the ‘hood, arrangements have been made for free parking in three large lots on the south side of Cesar Chavez (Charango) Boulevard on opening weekend.

To find out more about contributing to reshape Hemisfair, visit https://www.hemisfairconservancy.org.