County commissioners voted Tuesday to choose local artists Lionel and Kathy Sosa to design a mural for the under-construction San Pedro Creek Culture Park.

Carrie Brown, public art curator for the park, presented the Sosas’ concept for a five-panel mural to commissioners Tuesday. The park wants a mural that tells the story of the area, reflects the peoples of past and present Bexar County, and uses materials resilient enough to withstand any flooding.

Commissioners took little time to deliberate on Tuesday, as “we all know the Sosas pretty well,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. The couple was one of four finalists selected from a pool of 25 applicants.

The Sosas’ concept follows the idea of “a tree of life,” with each panel featuring one or more central figures with a tree-like design behind them representing different stages of Bexar County, Brown said.

“This is panel No. 1,” Brown said, gesturing to a colorful conceptual design. “As they describe it, San Pedro Creek is in pre-conquest times and is a lush environment that has attracted numerous local tribes.”

  • Panel 1 - Fundación / Foundation
  • Panel 2 - Immigration y Confrontación
  • Panel 3 Searación / Seperartion
  • Panel 4 - Inundation y Constricción
  • Panel 5 - Restoración / Restoration

Panel 2 depicts the struggle for power as immigrants move into the area, Brown said. Panel 3 depicts the creek as a literal boundary between the East and West sides of San Antonio, representing inequalities that sprang up as the city developed. Panel 4 is meant to represent the creek flooding and causing destruction, leading to it being redirected into drainage ditches and underground culverts. And the fifth and final panel of the mural evokes restoration and life, to reflect San Pedro Creek being returned to a more natural state.

Lionel Sosa, a portrait artist, built an ad company in the 1980s with Ernest Bromley and Al Aguilar. Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar and Associates, which was called Bromley Communications when it closed in 2015, became the largest Latino-oriented ad agency in the United States. Sosa’s website now labels him as an independent marketing consultant.

Lionel Sosa’s wife is also an artist, and the duo’s conceptual design seems to be drawn directly from Kathy Sosa’s painting series Trees of Life.

The mural will be located between Commerce and Dolorosa streets, in phase 1 segment 2 of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park project. That phase is scheduled to be completed in July 2022 and spans the distance between West Houston and West Nueva streets.

The design is not yet complete, Brown said, stressing that the images she shared with commissioners Tuesday are only conceptual. The budget for the proposed mural is $371,431, which includes the costs for animated visuals that visitors can explore after scanning a QR code on the mural to learn more about it. 

“We do have a mobile app for San Pedro Creek Culture Park,” Brown said. “We believe there’s something that we can add to that app. Basically what would happen is you’d come to the mural, you’d see the visual. But through your phone, you could hear the mural talk to you.”

The mural is scheduled to be installed and finished by March 2022, Brown said. There will be more art opportunities as park construction continues.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.