The Department for Culture and Creative Development, Public Art San Antonio
The city of San Antonio, Texas selected the Elmendorf Lake Park along Apache Creek to undergo improvements as part of a larger city-wide watershed improvements plan. The park is a neighborhood amenity that connects people with nature and affords a variety of opportunities to engage with the water while also learning about storm water management. The public art brief was to consider the project site (a traffic island) previously a barrier to access, as a new “front door” to this reinvigorated park. The desire was to create a work that engaged the community and served as an entry icon.
As an integrated public art installation – the work’s primary function is as an iconic marker for both vehicular and pedestrian experiences. Three wave forms of stainless steel create a meandering path inviting people to walk through to the park. The wave form patterning creates a visual phenomenon echoing the motion, reflection, and light on water. The patterning is coupled with the integration of poetry from Dr. Carmen Tafolla, former Poet Laureate of Texas and native of the West Side. The poetry selections, “soft voices throughout the centuries…” in both Spanish and English combine to create a welcoming and iconic entry to the neighborhood park with cultural expressions of ethnic pride in the story of place. Native plants echo the visual movement of waves, creating an inviting and supportive habitat for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Interior illumination creates a soft glow that is thoughtful of the site as it changes from day to night transforming a site barrier into an opportunity and invitation to explore the park and connect with nature.
The work was informed through site visits and community input meetings and review of the proposal concept with PASA. The collaborative effort extended to input from a local fabricator (Garces) who would ultimately build and install the work. The results express the desires of the community for the work to include lighting and careful consideration of the material finishes of the piece. The selections of poetry and arrangement of the selections as integrated with work was informed by a collaborative process with Dr. Carmen Tafolla and PASA.
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