SAN ANTONIO – The heart of San Antonio is a bit more colorful these days, courtesy of a project that kicked off during what may have been some of the darkest days in recent history.
Centro San Antonio originally had plans to launch the program, called “Art Everywhere,” before the coronavirus pandemic shut down cities all across the country.
The idea was to install art in the center of downtown, adding local culture to the area.
However, like many things at the time, the campaign was temporarily placed on hold.
Centro’s Vice President of Cultural Placemaking, Andi Rodriguez, says the organization later decided to move forward, starting with installing just one mural.
“There was such a positive reaction to it, we decided, ‘No, the world needs more art,’” she said.
Soon, they were well on their way to achieving a goal of installing 21 murals by the end of 2021.
“Art really helps us share our commonalities and it helps us find what we have in common,” Rodriguez said. “I think we really need more of that right now.”
“Some of our pieces are, kind of, thought-provoking. (People) look and are questioning and are thinking, and others just make you laugh,” she said.
The murals, all painted on private property, adorn walls and buildings within the area of downtown known as the Public Improvement District.
This area, located north of E. Cesar Chavez Boulevard between Interstate 35 and Interstate 37, is also the focus of other Centro San Antonio initiatives.
Rodriguez says she initially faced challenges when trying to convince some building owners to allow the artwork on their property.
She says as the number of wall paintings increased, though, she found that part of the job had become easier.
Finding local artists to participate was never a problem, she said.
One day recently, an artist known as “Scotch!” used spray paint to shade a wall in Peacock Alley in bright-colored geometric shapes, glad for the opportunity to show off his talents publicly.
“It’s about making everyone happy, like, just making smiles on faces, like, seeing reactions,” he said. “It’s amazing. I’m at a loss for words a lot of times, just to be part of the movement and the projects.”
Although Scotch says he has been painting murals for about four years, Rodriguez said she made an extra effort to work with up-and-coming artists.
The idea is to give them an opportunity to work, she said, while giving everyone else a chance to enjoy it.