Photo by Albert Salazar
San Antonio’s newest piece of public art is difficult to miss. The vibrant, panoramic mural stretches along I-35 on the edge of the Government Hill Historic District northeast of downtown.
It’s called “El Cielo Sobre La Loma” (“The Sky Over the Hill”), a collaborative effort between San Anto Cultural Arts, City Center Health Careers Charter School, area nonprofits and residents of the Fort Sam Houston-adjacent neighborhood.
The newly unveiled mural, a 120-foot homage to the history and culture of Government Hill, is the end result of a semester-long immersion in the mural tradition. John Medina, public art program manager for San Anto Cultural Arts, spent the fall teaching a course on murals for City Center Health Careers sophomores.
The art class, a first for the science and math-focused charter school, introduced students to murals and painting and taught them research techniques to help them discover the rich history of one of San Antonio’s most distinctive neighborhoods. Students capped off the semester by designing and painting the expansive piece on the side wall of St. Patrick Catholic Church Community Center.
The piece is the 45th work in San Anto Cultural Arts’ Public Art Program. City Center Health Careers Principal Michael Moretta approached the nonprofit to enhance the school’s curriculum and the neighborhood after admiring its artistic collaborations in other San Antonio communities.
The mural is a technicolor tribute to Government Hill and depicts an array of historical and cultural touchstones. The 132-year-old St. Patrick Catholic Church stands in the foreground of a pink and purple sunrise. An antique truck harkens back to the car clubs that congregate at the Pig Stand, and a giant rattler hints at the neighborhood’s nickname, Snake Hill, which was coined by Fort Sam Houston cavalrymen who frequently encountered the reptiles throughout the area.
“El Cielo Sobre La Loma” is located on the grounds of St. Patrick Catholic Church at 1114 Willow Street. A map of all of San Anto Cultural Arts public art projects is available on their website.