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San Antonio River Authority“What I’ve learned from the community,” says Carrie Brown, Public Art Curator at the San Antonio River Authority, “is that there is a real passion for being authentic, remembering our history, knowing it and showcasing it.”

Carrie has been curating public art at the San Pedro Creek Culture Park over the past year in anticipation of the Grand Opening of the first segment on May 5th. The Culture Park is located on the western edge of downtown. The first segment stretches from the flood tunnel inlet at N. Santa Rosa Street near Fox Tech High School to Houston Street.

San Pedro Creek Culture Park passing under Santa Rosa Street. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio.

Carrie explains that the intent of the Culture Park is not just to improve flood control and water quality, but also to highlight the culture and history of San Antonio. To do this, local artists have contributed works in various media to bring these concepts into physical space. From Michael Menchaca’s tile patterns to Diana Kersey’s ceramics, the art of San Pedro Creek Culture Park incorporates diverse perspectives to tell the story of San Antonio.

While it was possible to use interpretative panels to tell the story, Carrie says, it was also important to Bexar County that the story be told in a visual way. They wanted to “have artists come to the table and interpret these stories, and to celebrate the creativity we have here in this community,” she explains.

A ceramic created by local artist, Diana Kersey, for the piece “Bridges of Understanding.” Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio.
“De Todos Caminos Somos Todos Uno (From All Roads, We Are All One)” by Adriana M. Garcia. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio.

“One of the tenets of this project is to connect the community back to the Creek,” she continues, “It’s a place of great cultural and historical significance. I see the art program as part of that effort.”

Word art by John Phillip Santos etched in limestone. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio.

Carrie has been connecting communities with public art for fifteen years now. Her career began with an interest in photography. She always preferred being out of the spotlight, curating visuals behind the lens of a camera. After studying photography at Arizona State University, she got involved with the light rail project in Phoenix. It was there that she learned about the process of curating public art.

“It was really exciting for me to help other artists realize their projects but also be part of civic life and the building of our civic space,” she says. After working in Arizona, California, and Austin the opportunity at San Pedro Creek, which combined public art management with curation of events, was a perfect fit for her.

“It was really exciting for me to help other artists realize their projects but also be part of civic life and the building of our civic space,” she says. After working in Arizona, California, and Austin the opportunity at San Pedro Creek, which combined public art management with curation of events, was a perfect fit for her.

The openness of San Antonio’s arts community was impressed upon her almost immediately. Artists and arts organizations spent time with her not only immersing Carrie in San Antonio’s unique culture, but offering her their thoughts on the project. “The arts community’s always really friendly, always willing to work together, always willing to share resources,” she explains.

Foliage along the Creek. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio.

Now that the first segment is approaching completion, Carrie has begun planning for the future. Later this year, the first segment will host different events and temporary art activations to better tell the story of San Antonio and showcase the city’s culture.

The Culture Park will also serve as a venue for community organizations to host special events that will greatly expand its scope. Carrie explains that through events and temporary activations, artists will not only celebrate the past, but look to the future. “The story doesn’t end here,” she says, “This is sort of the re-birth of the Creek, the unveiling of the stories that are there.” And new stories will be written.

On May 5th, our city’s 300th Anniversary, the San Pedro Creek Culture Park will open. It holds the memories, cultures, and dreams of three centuries of San Antonians and those of the indigenous peoples before the city was founded. It will be for future generations to decide what the next three hundred years mean for the Creek and for our city.

Carrie Brown, Public Art Curator at the San Antonio River Authority. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio.
 

The San Pedro Creek Culture Park grand opening event on May 5th, 2018 is free and open to the public and will incorporate family-friendly fun lining the banks of the Creek from noon to 9 p.m., including food trucks, live music, children’s activities and historical presentations. The finale of the historic event will be an evening Illumination Ceremony beginning at 7:30 p.m., presented by Bexar County. Learn more at spcculturepark.com