The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.
When I first moved to San Antonio, the initial draw to Northeast Park was the location. It’s convenient for getting to other parts of town and just five minutes from the airport. When we’re not in a pandemic, I like to travel and to have visitors from out of town, so not having to stress about getting to the airport on time is definitely a plus. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate this blue-collar neighborhood and the people who live here. Though we’re not the kind of neighborhood that throws block parties, we’re all friendly with each other and make the effort to take care of our community.
And over time, I also found my favorite places around the neighborhood. There’s a spot under the highway nearby where the Theory Coffee and Churro Star trucks set up. I love the food truck culture in San Antonio and seeing how much can be accomplished in such a small space. We’re seeing more and more pop up as restaurants adapt their businesses during the pandemic. Two restaurants in the area that I frequent are Mama’s Cafe, which looks like it’s opening back up soon, and The Last Slice over by MacArthur High School.
You’ll often find me in nearby Lady Bird Johnson Park taking a stroll, having a picnic, or painting. Ever since taking a plein air class led by Maren Phillips a few years ago, I’ve spent a lot more time painting outdoors. Especially now during the pandemic, we’re so fortunate to have all this access to beautiful outdoor spaces. And it’s not just in my neighborhood. San Antonio has so many parks for residents to enjoy.
I’ve always been interested in art and have juggled my painting with other pursuits. I taught at McCollum High School for a few years and also did hair for a while. When the coronavirus hit, and I wasn’t able to do hair, that was an opportunity for me to devote more time to my art. Most of my paintings are of different San Antonio locations, some of beloved landmarks or community gathering places, and others of more quotidian settings that catch my eye. Oftentimes it’s a tire shop or a barbecue spot (even though I’m a vegetarian) that grabs my attention. I love a good street corner scene.
In my neighborhood, I’ve painted a few sidewalk scenes. Someone dropped a firecracker on the ground after the Fourth of July, and it was called the Neighbor Hater. I found that so funny, so I painted it. I appreciate a little bit of humor in my work. The other day I was painting a tire shop over off of Culebra. When I turned around after I finished, I saw a statue of a pepper wearing a hat out in front of a restaurant, and in the background was the Little Flower Basilica. The juxtaposition was so perfect I had to take a picture to paint later. It’s the everyday scenes like this – the ones that people might pass by without a second thought – that really inspire me because they capture the spirit of the city.
I just love this city and its mesh of cultures. I love the color of the city, the music, the fact that we can be outside most of the year – it’s such a festive place. And San Antonio is so warm and welcoming that everyone can be part of that festivity. I try to capture that as best as I can in my work and hope that it can preserve little snapshots of the city to look back on later and evoke memories tied to specific moments and locales.
San Antonio is growing so quickly, especially in recent years, that it’s become even more important to save these memories. I always joke that I have to get downtown and paint everything before condos take over. I lived in Austin for several years as a young adult and I don’t want to see San Antonio become another Austin. The recent growth is definitely altering the landscape of the city, but San Antonio has so far managed to retain its personality because we have good leaders and residents who value the history and culture of the city. I hope that we can hold onto that.