You’re likely familiar with the high-profile works of public art on view around downtown San Antonio: the gigantic, red swoop of Sebastián’s La Antorcha de la Amistad, Donald Lipski’s F.I.S.H. on Museum Reach, the new San Antonio|The Saga by Xavier de Richmont, projected periodically onto the San Fernando Cathedral, that horrific memorial thing out in front of the Alamo.
But there are brilliant works of public art scattered throughout the city, sometimes tucked into the unlikeliest of places with little fanfare, and they’re worthy of your attention. So we’ve done the legwork for you; we crept along scorching streets, drove into the hinterlands and unwittingly risked capture in an ominous gated community, just to show you what’s out there.
Our select seven are as follows: Riley Robinson’s Soccer Ball (Culebra Creek Park, 10919 Westwood Loop); Prairie Grass by Beth Galston (Northwest Service Center, Commerce at Callaghan); “Redrawing the City,” the Joey Fauerso-curated chapter of Public Art San Antonio’s recurring series X Marks the Art (various storefronts, Downtown); Golden Age, by Anne Wallace, (Phil Hardberger Park West, 8400 NW Military Hwy); Carlos Merida’s 1967 mural for HemisFair (inside Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, currently); Mark Schlesinger’s Along Here and There, (1.2 miles of Jones Maltsberger between Redland Road and Thousand Oaks Drive); and Ballroom Luminoso by Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock (Theo and Malone Underpass at I-35).
1. SOCCER BALL Where’s the rest of it? Adults and kids alike will appreciate Riley Robinson’s ingenious approach to public art: He hones in on a forthright yet graceful sight gag, one that reminds you to go play, already.
2. PRAIRIE GRASS A human-scale, kinetic, walk-through experience, Beth Galston enlivens an anonymous-looking public building with the flexible architecture of the natural world, making the viewer bug-sized and awed.
3. REDRAWING THE CITY The vinyl lettering on an empty storefront window spells out mundane items of desire, jolting color dissociations and witty quips on consumer culture while brilliantly fitting in with adjoining storefronts.
4. GOLDEN AGE These wheels don’t spin, but hundreds of tiny tags flicker in the breeze, evoking shimmering native grass and digital pixilation. They’re elegant, optimistic monuments to a re-emerging prairie landscape.
5. CARLOS MERIDA’S HEMISFAIR MURAL This majestic mosaic will have a place in the sun after the Convention Center’s renovation makes its interior wall an exterior one, just as the glory of HemisFair ’68 energizes the new plans for Hemisfair Park.
6. ALONG HERE AND THERE Meant not as a big, drive-by statement or complement to a spectacular vista, these earth-toned stripes set into the suburban pavement provide visual music to joggers, cyclists and dog-walkers.
7. BALLROOM LUMINOSO Upcycled bicycle parts from across the U.S. and LED lights create six “chandeliers” worthy of a Tim Burton dreamscape in a neglected space, while saluting SA’s healthy (and growing) cycling culture.