Artwork by Michael Menchaca on The E route. Photo by Joan Vinson.

While riding downtown’s free bus service or strolling along downtown streets, keep an eye out for images pasted on the roof, seats, or floor of the bus, stenciled next to bus stops, and hung from parking garages along its route.

VIA Metropolitan Transit and the Department for Culture and Creative Development (DCCD) have launched RESYMBOL, a series of public art installments along The E route that features local artists Ricky Armendariz, Waddy Armstrong, Elizabeth Carrington, Paula Cox, Michael Menchaca, Ethel Shipton, Robert Tatum and Louis Vega Treviño.

RESYMBOL is the most recent edition of X Marks the Art, a program designed to activate vacant downtown storefronts and underutilized spaces by installing public art. The E circulates downtown San Antonio’s entertainment venues, stopping at theaters, museums, restaurants, and cultural sites.

City officials and community members gathered Wednesday morning at Travis Park, boarded The E, and searched for art while riding the bus. On a concrete wall next to a bus stop was the stenciled image of a dog steering a boat, a vinyl poster of five black dresses hung from the fifth floor of a parking garage, and slices of cake and pink diamonds were pasted on the floor and walls of the bus.

“VIA is proud to be a part of this innovative display that challenges us to reimagine our public spaces and see the potential of our urban landscape,” said VIA President and CEO Jeffrey Arndt.

Artwork by Michael Menchaca. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Artwork by Michael Menchaca. Photo by Joan Vinson.

The VIA bus transports individuals on their literal journey from home and to work, but it also transports people on their “journey to explore life,” Arndt said. “I always think VIA is a great contributor to the opportunity in life.”

Passengers can now sit in their seats, look out of their window, and see an urban landscape touched by the human element, hopefully uplifting their spirits and making their travel time more enjoyable.

For Felix Padrón, director of the Department for Culture and Creative Development, the RESYMBOL installation transformed the cityscape into an outdoor art gallery.

“The (RESYMBOL exhibit) is about taking those artworks and those symbols and placing them throughout the cityscape to really begin to see those places perhaps in a different light and different way,” Padrón said.

Felix Padrón, the director of the Department for Culture and Creative Development,  gets out of the bus and takes a photo during the tour. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Felix Padrón, the director of the Department for Culture and Creative Development, gets out of the bus and takes a photo during the tour. Photo by Joan Vinson.

By placing their artwork on the streets and outside of the gallery, artists are interacting with a community who otherwise might not see their work.

“These temporary public art projects are located in places where we can interact with more people and get the benefit of having art as part of their daily experiences,” said James LeFlore, DCCD public art manager.

Diego Bernal, a former council member, introduced the X Marks The Art program in 2011 to create a more pleasing environment for locals and visitors who spend time in downtown San Antonio. Since its inception, the program has featured more than 40 artists at 19 downtown properties.

RESYMBOL will be on display until Nov. 1 and the artwork will rotate from one spot to another within the parameters of The E’s route.

Related Stories:

X Marks the Art: Because No One Likes to Look at Ugly Buildings

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Take The E Route to Downtown Entertainment – It’s Free

Commentary: VIA Should Expand the Free ‘E’ Route

Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....