I was just re-appointed to serve on the San Antonio Arts Commission representing district 3 on the southside of town. We don’t get much public art here. We get car lots and mobile phone shops. Now with the Missions’ World Heritage designation, the city is working to beautify the immediate area that leads tourist from downtown to the Mission Reach. There are wonderful murals going up, most, if not all, with natural environments and indigenous symbols. This is work we can all be proud of. We have selected local artists and some that participated in the Public Art mentorship program. The selected artists have met with community members and the American Indians in Texas to gather feedback and history of the location where their work appears. The results have been wonderful. We have community involvement and buy-in. The Department of Arts and Culture has organized and led these community meetings here and across the city.
My hope is that we can continue this work down Military Drive where there is just sign after sign for all kinds of businesses but nothing cultural or artistic to point to and be proud of. Our Chuck E Cheese was upgraded. Yeah wow. Another strip mall has been added. How many shops does Cricket Wireless need anyway? Used car lots and fast food pepper the strip which I now drive daily to get my daughter to her new school over by Brooks City Base. This area has been upgraded with chain restaurants, major shops, a movie theater and now I see a batting cage. It’s promising but I would like to see more work further west where I live by I35. The mall has been struggling but they are currently tearing up the flooring throughout. Some stores close and others open. I’m still mad that Luby’s is gone. I am not a fan of the food court. Yes, I like Ulta but I much rather have the ice cart pass by my booth repeatedly so I can recharge and continue shopping.
Great things are on the horizon for the southside thanks to Councilwoman Viagran. I am excited about the newly elected city council. Ana Sandoval has proven to be a firecracker and Roberto Treviño along with William Cruz Shaw put their lives on the line to get rid of the confederate monument in Travis Park. I doubt any museum will want that but we shall see where it lands. Councilman Brockhouse has requested more cultural outreach to his district 6 which sounds good to me.
If I had a wish list, and I do, it is to add more variety of cultural and culinary opportunities to the southside. We need a cultural center to put on live music and plays, a place where kids can paint or play with musical instruments. We also need a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Even better, how about an urban farm collaborative. We have so much wisdom in our neighborhood. Our elders come from a time and place where they grew corn and raised chickens in their back yards. They walked out to the garden and plucked a few leaves to make a tea to cure what ails them. We need to re-learn this knowledge. All we need is the space and leadership to do it.
Featured Image: Mural of pecans and mountain lions by Cristina Sosa Noriega. Image courtesy of Rivard Report