Last Updated on February 13, 2024
Welcome to the Creative Currents series! Public art, cultural programming, and artistic design enhancements express what is authentic about our local culture and explore the historical significance of area waterways through a contemporary art lens. This series provides an inside look at the many ways artists and their stories are incorporated into the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) projects, including the growing San Pedro Creek Culture Park.
Today, we invite you to step into Part 2 of our exploration of the public art at HemisFair and San Pedro Creek Culture Park. Part 1 of our series featured Bridge Projects and artist Alex Rubio. In this sequel, you’ll get to know more installations that have sprung to life, creating a captivating tapestry that continues to evolve with the passage of time. Join us as we dive into the fascinating world of art that bridges two parks, each with its own unique character and charm!
HemisFair has transformed over the decades. Site of San Antonio’s 1968 World’s Fair, the theme, “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas,” has withstood the test of time. The phrase is beautifully brought to life in Juan O’Gorman’s 22-foot-tall, 130-foot-wide mosaic mural above the Lila Cockrell Theatre. The mural portrays a diverse array of cultures, and its composition acts as a timeline spanning ancient civilizations to modern societies. On the left half, motifs and emblems depict the Americas from early Mesoamerican civilizations through European contact and independence from colonial powers. On the right, it shows European history from the Greco-Roman period through exploration and immigration to the Americas, ending during the Space Age. At the center is a family bridging the two hemispheres. Many believe O’Gorman exhibits his ancestry, showcasing his Mexican mother and Irish father.
Juan O’Gorman’s mosaic “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas” above the Lila Cockrell Theatre, facing the HemisFair extension of the San Antonio Riverwalk.
The San Pedro Creek Culture Park is home to a mural with a similar composition – De Todos Caminos Somos Todos Unos by Adriana Garcia. The mural rivals O’Gorman’s piece, standing 11 feet tall and 117 feet wide. The work depicts the Payaya Indians, the earliest inhabitants of the San Pedro Creek and San Antonio River, making first contact with Spanish Explorers, Canary Islanders, and Franciscan Missionaries. Like O’Gorman’s mural, the left half represents the new world, with the old world on the right. Together, the two sides display the passage of time and converge at the center of present-day San Antonio, while the constant swirling blue presence of San Pedro Creek dances throughout the mural.
“De Todos Caminos Somos Todos Unos” reflecting in the creek at sunset.
De Todos Caminos Somos Todos Unos also hints at the Payaya legend of the Blue Panther and the Anhinga bird at the Blue Hole (headwaters of the San Antonio River). While not widely documented, it is part of the rich cultural heritage and storytelling tradition of the Payaya people.
The legend typically goes something like this:
A unique Blue Panther arrived in their village, considered a gift from the spirits. It became a revered guardian spirit, protecting the village and aiding them in finding water sources.
One day, Blue Panther rescued an Anhinga bird trapped in a net near the sacred Blue Hole. The Anhinga emerged from the water, opening its liberated wings. In gratitude, the Anhinga became Panther’s messenger and protector of the Blue Hole. Together, they safeguarded the Payaya people and their vital water sources, symbolizing the harmony between humans and animals in indigenous beliefs.
You can see the story retold with Oscar Alvarado’s larger-than-life mosaic sculpture at Yanaguana Garden in HemisFair.
Oscar Alvarado’s Panter Azul (Blue Panther) and Anhinga (snakebird) mosaic sculptures at the Yanaguana Garden.
These masterpieces elegantly combine a variety of visual elements, paying homage to the multifaceted heritage of San Antonio. The city is a cultural mosaic and a meeting place for diverse people. By visiting these beautiful public spaces, you are experiencing these artist’s unique stories while creating your own memories. We hope that this will inspire you to support our mission and vision for enjoyable creeks and rivers. We encourage you to explore and make your own connections!