San Antonio’s Art Barges
Tracey Teo shares a new way to explore San Antonio’s eclectic art scene: by barge.
Sunfish have always swum in the San Antonio River, but they have never been spotted “flying” above it – until now. Philadelphia artist Donald Lipski and seven other artists were commissioned to create public art for an extension of San Antonio’s famous River Walk. Known as the Museum Reach, Lipski’s installation features a school of 7-foot-long illuminated sunfish suspended beneath the I-35 overpass adjacent to Camden Street, and it opens on May 30.
The Museum Reach extends four miles from Lexington Street downtown to Hildebrand Avenue, making several city museums accessible by river barge. No need to worry about parking, directions, or catching a cab. Visitors staying along the River Walk can simply step outside their hotel, catch a river barge and spend a day museum-hopping. The Witte, the Southwest School of Art and Craft and the San Antonio Museum of Art are just a short ride away.
Visitors traveling along the San Antonio River soon realize that not all the city’s art is displayed in museums. Thanks to the numerous innovative public art installations, there’s plenty to experience along the way.
As barge riders glide under the Lexington Street Bridge, the gateway to the Museum Reach, they encounter “light chimes,” hundreds of prism-like strips of light designed by London artist Martin Richman. Installations reflecting off the river transform a nondescript space under a bridge into a dazzling pool of multi-colored lights.
The grand finale to the riverboat journey is an inviting grotto created by San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés, who is known for his faux bois
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(artistic imitation of wood) concrete sculptures. While many of his works can be found around the city, this is his most ambitious and largest installation to date.
The fantastical grotto is surrounded by lifelike trees made of concrete. Benches designed to look like tree roots provide a place to relax before heading back down the river – if the sounds of a nearby waterfall don’t lull you to sleep.
Photo: Al Rendon