Currents & Eddies

CURRENTS & EDDIES The historic San Antonio River defines and connects the fabric of the city. Each year the world-renowned River Walk draws millions of visitors. Yet, miles of urban river with untapped potential lie beyond downtown and the famed Paseo del Rio. In 2004, the City of San Antonio’s Public Art Design and Enhancement program recognized the need for an Art Plan for the San Antonio River in association with the San Antonio River Improvements Project. The Art Plan addresses 13 miles of the San Antonio River to the north and south of the Downtown area. Public Art Master Plan Vision
The City of San Antonio SARIP Art Master Plan conceives of the river—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, connections, gathering places, and events—as a metaphorical and physical system of currents, eddies, and confluences providing unexpected and changing experiences. Artworks build upon the physical and metaphorical qualities of the river to yield an exquisite multidimensional flow. A stream of poetic narratives weaves throughout the river environment celebrating San Antonio’s imagination, history, authenticity, diversity, ecology, innovation, festivals, ritual, and craft. The resulting art network becomes both stage set and player in the unfolding drama of the city’s urban ecology. This network of systems, sites, and events triggers internal emotions and narratives. Art Project Scales
The San Antonio River can be considered a large social sculpture experienced at a variety of levels—from large system to intimate encounter. Human manipulations of and interactions with the river—natural, cultural, and technological—also occur at a variety of scales. To express an aesthetic about these experiences and interactions, art projects are conceived at four scales: system, reach, segment, and site/event. This reflects the diverse ways that artists think and work. With a dynamic art network of projects weaving together at different scales, one can perceive the river as a large system while experiencing an intimate encounter. Educational and temporary projects weave throughout the project to enhance the understanding of the river’s multidimensional flow. Conceptual Designs & Beyond
Along the length of the San Antonio River, a system-scale program of integrated projects brings diverse expressions of water and placemaking into focus. Places and experiences highlight the rich layering of events, forces, influences, and materials that have or will affect the river. Projects reflect human history as well as the language and origin of the river—its ecology, and its role in shaping the natural landscape and biology of the region. The projects are ecological enhancements; memory theaters; river connections; places for celebrations and events; and outdoor classrooms. The Art Plan contains conceptual designs for two pilot projects within this system-scale program: the “Grotto Theater” in the Museum Reach and the “Confluence Theater” in the Mission Reach. The projects complement one another and work as a piece. The Art Plan is a vision document. Over the course of 30 years, projects of various scales and types are developed, weaving a rich, aesthetic tapestry of artworks into the fabric of the river and city. Local, national, and international artists are engaged in the process of creating artworks throughout the river environment. Many projects include educational components that connect youth to the river and its ecology.

Cover of Art Master Plan

This is the cover of an art master plan called “Currents & Eddies”. The plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology.

Art Plan Theme

This graphic communicates the theme of the art master plan. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology of the Mission Reach.

Master Plan Graphic

This graphic is located at the beginning of the art master plan called “Currents & Eddies”. It shows the different sections of the river improvement project. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology.

Art Plan Goals

This graphic shows the goals for “Curents & Eddies”. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology of the Mission Reach.

Water

This graphic shows the myriad qualities of water within the San Antonio River watershed. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology of the Mission Reach.

Art Network: Scales and Experience

This graphic explains how recommended art projects within “Currents & Eddies” are conceived at four scales: system, reach, segment, and site/event. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology of the Mission Reach.

Art Network: Scales and Experience

This graphic shows how recommended art projects within “Currents and Eddies” are conceived at four scales: system, reach, segment, and site/event. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed. The “Grotto Theater” references the source of the river—the caves of the Edwards Aquifer—and the craft found within the downtown River Walk. The “Confluence Theater” is inspired by human history, natural phenomena, and ecology of the Mission Reach.

“Confluence Theater”

“Confluence Theater” pays homage to the layering of events, forces, influences, and materials that have formed the rich, diverse environment of the San Antonio River. The artwork draws upon the: 1) confluence of cultures and waters; 2) river’s ecological diversity; 3) processes of fluvial geomorphology; 4) built environment over time (Indian gathering places, missions, industrial landscape, and acequias); 5) human struggles with natural processes (flooding and drought) and the river’s power to give and destroy life; and 6) cultural and natural sanctuaries along the river. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed.

“Grotto Theater”

For centuries, the Balcones landscape has been fractured by seismic activity along a fault and carved by waters coursing through subterranean channels. The Balcones Escarpment gives rise to the Texas Spring Line that funds the rivers of south Texas. As a result, San Antonio has long functioned as critical oases to both travelers and settlers. “Grotto Theater” references the Balcones Escarpment and the subterranean world of caves and flowing water in the Edwards Aquifer. It also echoes the River Walk’s materials and high level of craft. The art master plan aims to establish a creative vision for 14 miles of the San Antonio River—its habitats, natural processes, infrastructure, pathways, outdoor rooms, and aesthetic elements—with a series of unexpected and changing experiences. Conceived as a system of currents and eddies, artworks enrich the journey along an aesthetically cohesive river pathway linking historic, natural, cultural and recreational features. The plan includes conceptual designs for two major public art projects conceived as theaters that address the history and culture of this unique watershed.

PROJECT CREDITS:
Lorna Jordan, Planning and Design Team Leader
With Bender Wells Clark Design & Winterbottom Design Prepared for the City of San Antonio in cooperation with the San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio River Oversight Committee