Wondering about the big lettered sign that just appeared on the 1221 Broadway parking garage downtown?

“You Are Beautiful” is a new public artwork by the Valence Group, which is not an artist but a self-described “business development consultancy of multidisciplinary problem solvers.”

Valence partner Robert Amerman described the privately funded piece of word art as a “love letter” to San Antonio.

“We are big advocates of the fact that we believe San Antonians are beautiful,” Amerman said.

In a media announcement, Valence partner Alexander Hilmy echoes Amerman’s thought. “We are beautiful, together. That is our strength. A strength that the project celebrates every day.”

Amerman, Hilmy and third Valence partner Richard Tobin II initially sought to have the piece installed on the Creamery building across from Brackenridge Golf Course, but for various reasons the location didn’t work out.

Developer David Adelman of Area Real Estate suggested the 1221 Broadway parking structure instead and donated the space, in part because of its visibility from the busy downtown intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and U.S. I-35.

Construction workers assemble the You Are Beautiful sign before installation.
Workers assemble the You Are Beautiful sign before installation. Credit: Courtesy / Alexander Hilmy

Amerman said he considers US Signs, which fabricated the 60-foot-long piece, as full collaborators in the project, much like a metal sculptor who works with a foundry.

“In collaboration, there’s just so many skill sets that come together. And they were a true partner from the very start in how we figured this out,” he said.

A new form of linear LED lighting will allow warm white illumination without the harshness of neon, Amerman said.

Though the piece is privately funded, the company worked with the Department of Arts and Culture and the Development Services Department for permitting, and went through a Historic Design and Review Commission review and approval process, both common steps for large-scale public art in the city.

Valence bills itself as a business development agency, but Amerman assured that “You Are Beautiful” is not an advertisement.

“It’s not advertising,” he said. “It’s more expression than advertisement.”

And though each of the Valence partners has experience with public art in San Antonio — including Amerman’s nine years with the San Antonio River Foundation, which is active in public art — Amerman said the expression of the “You Are Beautiful” sentiment is more important than whether it came from an artist or not.

“We don’t fancy ourselves public artists,” Amerman said of Valence, “but we fancy ourselves huge advocates of San Antonio and the nature of San Antonio, and San Antonio’s beautiful, courageous heart.”

Once installation is finished on Tuesday, weather permitting, drone images and details on the piece will be made available on the DearSanAntonio.com website beginning on Wednesday.

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...