Trilogy dancers perform underneath the unveiled logo. Photo by Scott Ball.
Dancers from Trilogy Dance Center perform underneath the Tricentennial logo during its unveiling. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Following this past weekend’s Luminaria at Hemisfair, which some viewed as a prelude to San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebration, I was thrilled to read that San Antonio’s Woman’s Pavilion was featured in 2013’s Luminaria festivities.

The Woman’s Pavilion in Hemisfair Park.
The Woman’s Pavilion in Hemisfair Park is located near the Tower of the Americas. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The historic and globally supported Woman’s Pavilion, a tenacious and crowdfunded effort that was built as a permanent public facility and centered HemisFair ’68, must be revived and celebrated during the Tricentennial year. The pavilion, located near the Tower of the Americas, could and should be a vibrant heart of San Antonio’s visitation in 2018 and in the future.

San Antonio has an abundance of female-powered art that should be celebrated during the Tricentennial. Computer scientist and graphic artist Janice Lourie’s innovative touch screen-driven loom prints and artists Sister Corita Kent and Georgia O’Keeffe‘s works were prominently displayed at HemisFair ’68. That World’s Fair was about and made extraordinary by women, despite them never having received adequate recognition for their efforts.

For more than 20 years, the women’s clay cooperative MujerArtes Studio, an equally tenacious and progressive effort founded on the city’s Westside, aims to connect the community and visitors with San Antonio’s local culture and environment.

If rumors are true, Pat Benatar could be one of the Tricentennial’s New Year’s Eve headliners. Beyond being an “invincible” 1980s rocker, Benatar this year has made international headlines for rocking out for women and women’s empowerment.

Let’s celebrate these and other women’s accomplishments in San Antonio with the Tricentennial.

A glance at New Orleans’ 2018 Tricentennial website suggests what is still possible for San Antonio’s celebrations: marking the occasion with artisanal memorabilia (via MujerArtes Studio and similar organizations), community engagement, inspiring aims, leadership, and – critically – a commitment to preserving a signature legacy public building such as our city’s Woman’s Pavilion.

Women rock, but they are living in trying times. The hashtag #metoo, which went viral after several women stepped forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment, has the public talking about how we treat and regard women.

San Antonio can remember its past, celebrate its people, and lead into a better future by making the Tricentennial about women and women’s empowerment.

The Tricentennial Commission must invite more women who rock and commemorate the women who have rocked San Antonio. That includes reopening the national heritage Woman’s Pavilion. Notable San Antonio women such as Lila Cockrell, Fay Sinkin, Margaret Tobin, Bertha González, and Edith McAllister were driving forces behind the creation of the Woman’s Pavilion. The building deserves better than to be boarded up and forgotten.

Through the Tricentennial, this city can collectively celebrate how women will continue to shape San Antonio’s future. It’s not too late, and I am hopeful for a celebration based on the leadership and past efforts of our city’s courageous, clever, and loving women and men.

As Pat Benatar sings, “What are we waiting for?

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Mark Tirpak

Mark Tirpak is an urban planner and researcher and a contributing author of "Rethinking Life at the Margins: The Assemblage of Contexts, Subjects, and Politics" (2016).