As the City’s Sebastián in San Antonio retrospective exhibition draws to a close, a new door will open. The Department of Arts and Culture on Wednesday morning announced a new monumental Sebastián sculpture, nearly 20 years after his iconic Torch of Friendship was gifted to the city.

The 30-foot, royal blue Door of Equality (La Puerta de Igualdad) will watch over a roundabout one block north of the Central Library, its two geometrically-rendered columns acting as a gateway to the city. One column represents peace, tranquility and wisdom, and the second column represents loyalty, strength, and trust, according to a City news release.

Debbie Racca-Sittre, director of the Department of Arts and Culture, said the noted sculptor considers San Antonio his “second home,” and said he wanted to do something special for the city to commemorate the retrospective.

The gift is a donation of $800,000 jointly by the Fundación Sebastián and Siempre Mexico, a business organization founded by Alex Quiroz, who also led the Mexican empresarios association that brought the Torch to San Antonio in 2002.

Racca-Sittre estimated the City’s contribution to be $160,000, to create the support infrastructure necessary to house the sculpture, including electricity for lighting, a platform, and a small sitting area dedicated to civil rights organizations founded in San Antonio — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

Given the local history of civil rights efforts and current drives for equity in City budgeting and planning, the Door of Equality is a natural fit, she said.

The sculpture, Racca-Sittre said, “is showcasing all the struggles that we’ve had in San Antonio for equity. … And especially the fact that this is a Mexican artist saying this, that he understands that there are issues between our two countries with borders and walls going up. He wanted to have a door as a symbol of a gateway.”

Sebastián has built similar doors, or monumental portal sculptures, in other cities, including La Puerta a Chihuahua in Chihuahua and Gran Puerta de México in Matamoros.

“When people build walls, I build gates,” he said in an October interview.

Racca-Sittre said the installation of the sculpture should be completed by June.

The announcement of the new sculpture was accompanied by the release of the City-published retrospective catalog for Sebastián in San Antonio: 50+ Years, 20+ Locations, 100+ Works, which will be available free to the public on a first-come, first-served basis at a reception on Jan. 23 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Culture Commons Gallery. The artist will be in attendance to sign the books.

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...