Bexar County commissioners unanimously approved four finalists Tuesday who will submit proposals for the permanent public art slated for “fast-track” installation at the main San Pedro Creek plaza in time for San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebrations on May 1, 2018.
The finalists, chosen out of 112 applications by a citizen and stakeholder evaluation committee, are local artist Chris Sauter, Alice Aycock from New York, Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada of Barcelona, and Casto Solano of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.
Each artist will receive a $5,000 stipend to begin work on their designs. Their proposals are due on Oct. 17 and the Commissioners Court will select and approve the winner on Nov. 1.
The committee had planned on selecting only three finalists, but today’s vote by the commissioners allowed for an additional artist to receive $5,000.
That decreases the total cost of materials and installation the County will pay for the public art installation, minus stipends, to $730,000.
The winning design should “bring life to imagery that speaks to diversity, inclusivity, tradition, and the future of our community,” said Betty Bueche, Bexar County Heritage and Parks Department director, “as well as create excitement and interest within the community.”
The winning piece will be installed at the northeast corner of the Tree of Life plaza off of Santa Rosa Street.
San Antonio native Chris Sauter is well known in the arts community as a sculptor and educator. His provocative pieces can be found in Texas, New York, Germany, and beyond.
“Although it is not my main goal, using agricultural imagery positions the rural experience as something equally as interesting, important, and complex as the urban,” Sauter explains in his artist statement. “An exploration (embrace) of my own roots is both part of that desire and a mode of inquiry.”
NewYork-based Aycock has exhibited in galleries all over the world. Her pieces Twists and Turns: Waltzing Matilda and Twin Vortexes will be at Georgia Museum of Art through September. They are part of her Park Avenue Paper Chase series in which she “tried to visualize the movement of wind energy as it flowed up and down the Avenue creating random whirlpools . . . touching down here and there and sometimes forming dynamic three-dimensional massing of forms.”
Aycock has a new, large-scale outdoor public art piece that will be installed in Coral Gables, Fla. this spring.
Barcelona-based Rodríguez-Gerada, known for his large-scale work in urban spaces, started his realistic portraiture in 2002 with his Identity Series. The Cuban-American artist is best known for his portrait of a young boy, Out of Many, One, on the Mall in Washington. Locally, he’s known for his depiction of a young girl, Nyssa, near the Tree of Life plaza.
“These portraits transformed local, anonymous residents into social icons, giving relevance to an individual’s contribution to the community and touching upon the legacy that each life has to offer,” he stated on his website.
Solano is also based in Spain but he’s no stranger to Texas. He recently added an award for his Vaughan Brothers Tribute Art Project at Kiest Park in Dallas to his long list of international accomplishments.
“Over and above questions of their own ego, artists should be able to mould their creativity and carry out the project in a spirit of coordination and understanding with the team charged with implementing the plan of action,” Solano stated to the Urban Art Commission. “They should understand that it is only within this framework that they will be free to demonstrate their artistic capacity.”
The selected work of art will be one of many elements of art included in the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, which will break ground on Sept. 8 with a special operatic, symphonic performance at Fox Tech High School’s former football field.
Top image: A view of the Tree of Life plaza on the San Pedro Creek. Image courtesy of the San Antonio River Authority.