It was a cool, clear November night, Downtown Tuesday, at the Alamo Eat-Bar…and then Bam! Awesome SA struck again, the second time in as many months.

Trustees of the city’s newest creativity incubator awarded $1,000 to John Medina and San Anto’s Cultural Arts program (SACA) for his winning idea to design and build a bike rack that also will be a work of sculpture, giving inner city kids in his program a safe and inspirational place to park their rides.

“The project reaches a lot of our community,” said Awesome SA Co-founder Jeff Mulholland after making the announcement, “It’s two things in one, really … art in the community and it also makes biking more accessible.”

Awesome SA Trustee, and birthday girl, Kelly Beevers presents John Medina with the $1,000 grant prize plaque.
Awesome SA Trustee, and birthday girl, Kelly Beevers presents John Medina with the $1,000 grant prize plaque. Photo by Iris Dimmick

A crowd of about 60 turned out to cheer on the five finalists selected for the November competition, each of whom addressed the crowd in person or by proxy. Interestingly, readers on the Rivard Report also selected Medina as their favorite in online comments posted to the site, where all the finalists each month are featured.

The other contestants congratulated him on his winning idea right after the announcement.

“I’m super excited,” Medina said. Work will start right away on the project, with a meeting Wednesday with sculptural artist and teacher Casey Cooper on creating a curriculum for the kids to start working on the bike racks.

“We’re going to start working with kids to make it personalized for the students,” Medina said, a seemingly permanent smile on his face.

The sculptural displays will be ready within a couple of months in front of SACA at 2120 El Paso St.

Are you new to the Awesome SA story? The nation’s newest urban chapter of the national AWESome Foundation movement has a simple missions: Give away $1,000 each month — every month —  to a single person or organization with a creative idea to make San Antonio a better place. No strings attached.

Last month, Solar San Antonio won Awesome SA’s inaugural award for its project to convert the Say.She.Ate food truck to solar power. The project’s creative director, Nick Jones, was on hand, to give the audience an update.

Logistical preparations are still underway, but Jones was confident that two-to-three 250 watt converters and a battery system can be purchased soon with their grant money.

“We’re collaborating with Madison High School’s Solar Car,” Jones said, “And tomorrow we’re watching a webinar on solar power trailers to get more information.”

Awesome SA board and trustees with November winner John Medina with SACA sculptural bike racks. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Awesome SA board and trustees with November grant winner John Medina/SACA sculptural bike racks. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Co-owner of Alamo Street Eat Bar and The Friendly Spot Jody Bailey Newman was also at the event to support the foundation.

“I love all the bike-oriented ideas,” she said, “But the variety of entries is really exciting.”

Most of the crowd stuck around to congratulate Medina and have a few brews and a food-truck dinner after the announcement.

Mulholland was especially happy to see such a good turn-out and hopes for even more for next month’s contest.

“You won’t know what to expect next from Awesome SA,” he said, commenting on the lack of solid criteria for contest submissions. “Whatever is the most awesome to us at the moment will win. We want to have a diverse (collection of ideas) at the end of the year.”

So who will win $1,000 in December, and January, and February? It could be you. Is it possible to change the world, $1,000 at a time? If you believe the founders of The Awesome Foundation, the answer is, “Yes, you can.” Or maybe, “Si, se puede,” to localize the dream. Are you a creative individual or a committed community group with a small-scale idea that could make the city a better place? Well then, Awesome SA’s board of trustees wants to hear from you. Visit the website for submission guidelines. The money is in the bank. We need deserving recipients.

The concept was born in Boston in the summer of 2009, and has quickly spread to some 50 cities worldwide, now including San Antonio. A board of 10 “micro-trustees” pool together funds at the modest rate of $100 per month per trustee and then select individuals with “a crazy, brilliant idea that needs funding,” who are granted $1,000 to carry out their projects. “Deans” also join in, investing not money, but their time and talent.

You can read more about the local chapter’s founding by clicking on Amazing! The Awesome Foundation Spreads to San Antonio, which we published on Aug. 16. Full disclosure:  The Rivard Report is one of the Awesome SA trustees. We are committed to publish articles each month profiling the finalists and recognizing the winner. Our intention is to promote this and any other initiative that supports creative class activity in the city. Other Awesome SA trustees include Francesca Caballero, Zac and Brooke Harris, Melissa Burnett, Michael Girdley, Jeff Mulholland, Omar Gonzalez, Peter French, Kelly Beevers and Christina Bigley. Awesome SA Board Members: Jeff Mulholland, Claudia Loya, Zac Harris, and Scott Gustafson.

We’ll close by letting everyone who couldn’t come to the Alamo Eat-Bar to hear Medina describe his project to read his submission:

Finalist: John Medina with Sculptural Bicycle Rack

A little about me:

John Medina Sculptural Bike Racks
Photo from John Medina.

San Anto’s Public Art Program (SACA) identifies, develops and mobilizes artistically –inclined youth and young adults to create collaborative community murals / public art pieces within the San Anto Cultural Arts community. The goals of the program are to create and inspire collaborative, quality public art. San Anto creates public art works of various scale that are symbols of the Westside, defining its character through the eyes of its residents.

Here’s my idea:

The 2120 Collective is San Anto Cultural Arts’ after school program for creative youth who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts. Members of the SACA Collective have the opportunity to develop artistic skills and learn about various aspects of the art world including process, theory and business. Furthermore, they gain real-world experience through participating in San Anto’s public art projects, which they can use to develop their own professional art portfolios. Trips to local museums and visits to the personal studios of well-known, local artists are all part of the well- rounded development of these young artists.

One aspect of the Collective is that members get to propose their own projects so that they can learn about things they are interested in. It is through that process that we have developed this particular proposal.

Many of our participants use bicycles as their primary form of transportation, In the past, SACA has had issues with bicycle theft. We do not have a safe and secure place for our visitors to lock up their bikes. As a result, when the collective meets we have numerous bikes stacked inside our building which takes up a lot of space. Our participants recognized this issue and instead of asking us purchase a standard bike rack they saw this as a learning opportunity.

So that brings us to our proposal.

SACA and the 2120 Collective would like to build an artistic bicycle rack. This functional art piece would serve to beautify our corner of the community while offering our visitors a safe place to secure their bicycles. Participants will work with a local metal artist to complete this project through a series of workshops. Through designing this bike rack, participants will learn about the fundamentals or 3-dimensional design and public sculpture. They will also learn advanced metal fabrication techniques which will include forging, welding and powder coating.

How I will use the money:

The awesome grant will be used to purchase the materials necessary to complete this sculpture project. In addition it will also pay for artist fees associated with the project. The entire proposed budget (including artist fees) is $1,189.00

I have included pictures of proposals for the design of the bike rack. Keep in mind, this is not necessarily what the end product will look like. They are simply examples of proposals for the project.

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.