He’s made a lifestyle and a living writing about San Antonio history, and in particular, its river. I'm talking about Lewis Fisher. He wrote the definitive book years ago on the history of the San Antonio River, but now he’s got a new one.
“The new book is titled American Venice: The Epic Story of San Antonio’s River.
So why did we need a new book about the river?
“The River Walk has recently been expanded from three miles to 15 miles, with dramatic extensions to the north and to the south. And this book covers both of them.”
A new River Walk art installation went in last week. The piece is called Compass Rose.
“Compass Rose is a 4 ft. by 3 ft. glazed ceramic mosaic that is situated in the geographic center of San Antonio on the River Walk,” said Alex Rubio, the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum’s Artist in Residence for their mosaic program.
As Rubio detailed, the mosaic program mentors high school students that they recruit from art programs all around the city.
“Teaching them studio practicum. Getting them involved in community work, and of course, public art,” Rubio said.
You may have noticed an increasing number of yellow ribbons along the River Walk in the past couple of weeks. People have been buying sponsorship ribbons to honor loved ones in advance of the third annual Armed Forces River Parade on Saturday evening, a parade that is considered unique in the country.
Janie and Randy Kiehl drive down from Kerrville every year to help Paseo del Rio hang hundreds of large yellow bows on the trees along the River Walk in preparation for the parade.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum just added another gallery and this one is outdoors. The grand opening of the one-third acre McNutt Courtyard on the east end of the Briscoe’s Market Street museum on Thursday morning unveiled eight western sculptures.
I spoke to the museum’s Executive Director Steven Karr about the process for finding the sculptures.
“It was really trying to find pieces that were emblematic of the American West,” Karr said.
Emblematic, but, Karr hopes, not necessarily what you’d expect.
The city has been unhappy with the amount of foot-traffic the historic area gets and multiple studies have been done to try and address shortcomings. City council will be discussing the request for proposals that the Department for Culture & Creative Development has devised to encourage more visitors.
The newest River Walk tile mural was unveiled on Tuesday morning and it celebrates the story of water in San Antonio.
"Contrary to popular belief, oil isn’t the lifeblood of this city, it’s water," said Briscoe Western Art Museum’s Executive Director Steven Karr. "So it’s an important story to tell."
To tell that story, the Briscoe collaborated with San Antonio Water Systems and artists from Dunis Studios and decided to continue a long-standing San Antonio tradition of creating and installing large tile murals along the River Walk.
That water tank behind the Arneson River Theater stage marks San Antonio’s oldest pump station. Just to the west of it is the brand new Briscoe Museum. The area between them is the beautiful McNutt Courtyard.
As an entrance to the River Walk, it’s a prime place to carry on a San Antonio art tradition — a painted tile mural.
"It’s completely in the W.P.A. tradition," said tile expert and author Susan Toomey Frost talking about the Works Progress Administration tile murals installed as part of the old River Walk. She cites a long tradition.
It is said that New Yorkers don’t go see the Statue of Liberty -- they just take it for granted. With that as premise, I took you to the River Walk in a recent report so that others could remind you how wonderful the River Walk is. Those to whom I spoke expressed too much enthusiasm for only one report, so here's a follow up.
"I’m Catherine Perez, we just recently moved to the San Antonio area from Florida."
I asked Catherine what she thought of the River Walk in its holiday finery.
San Antonio’s largest single piece of art has many fans, both local, and international. It's the San Antonio River, downtown. A pan flute fills the air with South American magic at the River Center Mall lagoon, where the barges circle and head out on their circumnavigation of the river's big horseshoe bend.
I went down the other night to see what people thought about how the city dresses up its River Walk for the Holiday Season.
"My name is Justin Self, and I’ve been having fun just walking around and seeing all the pretty lights."